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Restaurants Feeling the Effects of Mercury Scare

Well, he's dead all right, but was it of mercury poisoning?Photo: Melissa Hom

Earlier today we showed you a letter Takahachi is giving its customers. It's not the only restaurant around town feeling the fallout. “We were very busy yesterday, but today is so quiet,” a sushi chef at Hatsuhana in midtown whispered the evening after the January 23 article was published. “Even customers that are coming in are asking for no tuna.” In the Village, celebrities usually wait patiently in line for a table at Japonica. “I don’t know whether it’s the article, the economy, or our customers are on vacation, but all of a sudden our business has fallen down 20 to 30 percent, and 15 percent of those who come in have changed their regular orders. It’s even worse for my friends who have restaurants in Westchester and Connecticut. There is a lot you can eat at sushi restaurants other than tuna,” said owner Shingo Yonezawa. “It’s a nightmare.” And not only Japanese restaurants are affected. “When we put tuna on the menu, it was such an easy sell,” said Danny Abrams, owner of The Mermaid Inn and others. “We were selling seventeen to twenty per night. After the article we were down to six or seven. Even our tuna tartare appetizer stopped selling. I was surprised it dropped as much as it did.” —Beth Landman
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