Chipotle says it’s already reopened the Virginia restaurant that yesterday became an embarrassing source of food-safety déjà vu for the chain. Local health authorities are still fielding complaints from customers who ate there — per the latest report, the count’s now up to 40 people. But Chipotle continues to say this is probably just your garden-variety case of highly contagious norovirus, meaning odds are low it came from the chain’s food-supply chain. (The E. coli at the center of Chipotle’s 2015 woes had infected the food itself.) Odds are therefore much higher it’s the fault of a sick Chipotle employee or customer who wandered in, although “much higher” shouldn’t be confused with “100 percent” since, as the CDC notes, produce grown in a field contaminated by the virus can still poison people if it’s not cleaned properly.
CEO Steve Ells took time to address the issue personally today:
“It is unfortunate that anyone became ill after visiting our restaurant, and when we learned of this issue, we took aggressive action to correct the problem and protect our customers,” Chipotle Chief Executive Officer Steve Ells said in a statement.
“While the restaurant was closed, multiple teams performed complete sanitization of all surfaces,” Ells said.
Originally, the store was going to reopen mere hours after closing, but the New York Post reports that idea got abandoned yesterday after Chipotle had a quick “discussion” with the Loundoun County Health Department.
Here’s what the scene outside the restaurant in Sterling, Virginia, looked like a few hours ago when a local WUSA 9 reporter stopped by (at least one person seems to be heading toward the front door):
The chain also unveiled a new “immersive” ad today starring Wu-Tang’s RZA. While completely coincidental, the timing is especially funny because the theme is that just like RZA’s music, when Chipotle combines its “real” ingredients together, “a full melody is created.”