WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A West Palm Beach commissioner is stepping up to support The Butcher Shop Beer Garden and Grill after a hepatitis A scare at the restaurant.
Commissioner Richard Ryles, recently sworn in to represent District 3, said it's important to him that businesses in downtown West Palm Beach succeed and he's going to do what he can to support them.
On Monday the Health Department released a statement informing the public that an employee at The Butcher Shop Beer Garden and Grill tested positive for Hepatitis A. Management at the restaurant later clarified that the employee is a dishwasher and did not "handle" or have any contact with food.
The news and a recent inspection report pointing out several high priority warnings at the restaurant have impacted the perception of some customers looking to dine there.
"Yeah, definitely if I hear about a hepatitis A scare somewhere, I'm not going to go there," said Gabrielle Barnett.
Commissioner Ryles said he wanted to dispel rumors that it's not safe to eat at Butcher Shop. He scheduled a lunch meeting with the owner of the restaurant Wednesday to address those concerns.
"They said that they are on it. They've made a considerable investment in this community and as a business that is in my district, I wanted to make sure I support them and I'm going to assist them in any way I can," said Ryles.
Commissioner Ryles admitted he has not read the food service inspection report that listed violations at the restaurant on May 17, but believes the restaurant should have been notified sooner about the employee's diagnosis.
"I think it was unfortunate that they had an employee that was ill and did not realize it," said Ryles.
The Health Department said it learned of the positive test on April 25, but it took three weeks to track down the person infected. It's not clear when it notified the restaurant about the diagnosis. Some customers say this wouldn't change their eating habits, they'd just like to see more restaurants stress the importance of hand-washing to employees.
"It's a good idea to put a bigger sign or something or notify the people, especially the staff because of hepatitis A, bring that to their attention," said Ray Weldon.