Browns Socialhouse in Port Moody reopened on Tuesday after a suspected outbreak of Norovirus closed the restaurant for almost a week.
John Gillis, the vice-president of Browns restaurant group that operates the chain of more than 60 locations across Canada, said the Newport Village restaurant first started getting calls last Tuesday from customers reporting illness after visiting there earlier in the week. He said some staff were also reporting flu-like symptoms.
Gillis said Fraser Health was alerted and a meeting with its representatives was held at the restaurant on Wednesday. That’s when the decision was made to close the restaurant.
He said the company received confirmation from Fraser Health on Friday that a guest had tested positive for Norovirus and crews spent the weekend cleaning and disinfecting the restaurant.
“You literally have to scrub every contact surface possible,” Gillis said.
Norovirus is a contagious gastrointestinal infection that is spread by contaminated food, water or person-to-person contact. It can also spread via contaminated surfaces or through the air. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, fever and chills.
There are about 685 million cases of the disease in the world a year, and about 200,000 people die from it, many of those in the developing world.
Several people who said they’d recently visited the restaurant posted their experiences on social media, including Carol Moody, of Port Moody, who said she became so ill after eating dinner there on Mother’s Day, she thought she “was dying.”
She added, “I have never every experienced anything like this.”
Kathie Wilson said four members of her family got violently ill after having brunch at the restaurant, also on Mother’s Day. She said she got so sick she passed out and had to go to emergency at Eagle Ridge Hospital after scraping her face and nose and injuring her neck in the fall.
Gillis said the health board conducted a full inspection of the restaurant’s premises on Tuesday before allowing it to reopen. He said regaining the confidence of customers will take time.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “But the buzz has been supportive.”