Why Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing closed last week

Norovirus from April 14 caused voluntary closure on April 18
By Brandon Gustafson | Apr 25, 2018
Courtesy of: Ivar's An Ivar’s employee doing some deep cleaning in the kitchen. Ivar’s was closed last Wednesday, April 18, after customers reported getting sick after eating at the restaurant on Saturday, April 14.

If you were looking to dine at Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing last Wednesday, April 18, you discovered the restaurant was closed, but were unsure why.

Last Thursday, the Snohomish Health District announced the restaurant had closed on April 18 due to reports of norovirus-like symptoms from people who had dined there on Saturday, April 14.

Ivar’s elected to voluntarily close the restaurant last Wednesday for disinfection.

“The safety and wellbeing of our guests is our number one concern. We are thankful the reported illness did not require medical care, and we take reports of this nature seriously,” said Bob Donegan, president of Ivar’s. “We voluntarily closed our Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing’s full-service restaurant, as well as the Fish Bar, on Wednesday to perform all cleaning and sanitation protocols.”

Donegan said eight customers who dined in on Saturday night called the restaurant on Monday, reporting they were dealing with flu-like symptoms.

According to the Snohomish Health District, the symptoms of noroviruses are similar to the symptoms of the stomach flu, and they usually start 24 to 48 hours after exposure to the norovirus. The symptoms typically last for a day or two.

“One group called, and as soon as the second one called, we notified the Snohomish Health District,” Donegan said. “A party of eight had five people who said they were sick, and we had two employees who weren’t working that night but came and dined in, and they both were sick on Monday as well. In total, eight of 768 customers who got food from the restaurant and the fish bar got sick.”

Heather Thomas, Public and Government Affairs Manager for the Snohomish Health District, said they received a few more sickness reports than Ivar’s did.

“There were 15-18 individuals who reported norovirus-like symptoms and had eaten at that Ivar's location during the timeframe,” Thomas said.

Donegan said they asked those who got sick what food they ate, who their server was, where they sat, and what time they came in to eat in order to try and pinpoint the cause of the illness.

“We checked the health of everyone working, and no employees were sick or got sick except the ones who came in to eat,” Donegan said. “We chose on Wednesday to voluntarily close and sanitize in cooperation with the Snohomish Health District.”

According to Donegan, they cleaned and sanitized everything from underneath tables to the receipt printer, and the Health District felt they did a thorough enough job to reopen the restaurant on Thursday.

“They said it was one of the most thorough cleaning jobs they’d seen,” Donegan said.

In the press release, the Snohomish Health District said they felt Ivar’s handled the situation appropriately, given the short timeframe.

Donegan and Thomas are both unaware of what caused the illness.

“Following an investigation, results are inconclusive on the exact cause,” Thomas said. “However, based on both the size of the outbreak and the narrow time window when those who went on to be ill had dined, a food source seems unlikely. Since norovirus and other gastrointestinal viruses can be spread by contaminated food, drink, or by touching contaminated surfaces, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact source.”

Donegan doesn’t believe food was the cause of the customers getting ill.

“We at Ivar’s think a customer came in who had the flu and sneezed and coughed, and that was the cause,” Donegan said. “The parties who got sick were sitting on opposite ends of the restaurant and had different servers and bussers, so location and staff likely weren’t the cause.”

The restaurant reopened last Thursday for its regular business and has continued their normal operations.

 

 

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