Christmas dinner chaos as Enderby restaurant unexpectedly announces Christmas closure

20151219_151054A popular Enderby restaurant has thrown some patrons’ Christmas plans into chaos after it announced closure following an investigation by health experts into an outbreak of salmonella poisoning.

The Grove Farm, which is normally jam-packed with patrons, some travelling a fair distance, will be shut until after the Christmas celebrations and all bookings over the period have been cancelled.

The first some people knew of the closure was via the restaurant’s Facebook page, which posted a message on Saturday 12th December saying:

“We have taken the decision to close Grove Farm until after Christmas and apologise sincerely to all our customers for the inevitable disruption to their plans that this will cause. Customers with bookings over the Christmas period will be contacted by my team personally and we will do our utmost to help them make alternative arrangements and compensate them for their lost booking.”

Public Health England said it first became aware of a problem at the venue in April after several people went to their GPs with stomach bugs and were found to have salmonella poisoning.

It said some of those affected were diners at Grove Farm, but was unable to confirm how many.

A spokesman said the restaurant was given a “deep clean” in the summer because of concerns, but the disease resurfaced recently, with more people falling ill.

This week, the restaurant’s owners, Greene King, voluntarily closed the premises, in Barton Close, Enderby.

Manager Amy Robertson said:

“The decision to close has not been taken lightly.

“We have been working tirelessly with Environmental Health and Public Health England to try to identify if Grove Farm is associated with a cluster of salmonella cases in Leicestershire.

While a number of those reporting sickness have not eaten with us, we are trying to understand if our pub could have played any part in illnesses reported by a very small number of our customers.

“We have closed the pub to go beyond our usual extremely strict hygiene regime and are dismantling parts of the very fabric of the building in order to clean inaccessible areas and ensure that every inch of the pub has been thoroughly sanitised.

“Once completed, we will be undertaking further tests. We expect the results from the laboratory could take up to two weeks and are not prepared to reopen the pub before those results have been received.

“Customers with bookings during the Christmas period will be contacted by my team personally and we will do our utmost to help them make alternative arrangements and compensate them for their lost booking.”

Dr Philip Monk, a consultant in communicable disease control at Public Health England, told local media that everyone who had contracted salmonella was either recovering or had fully recovered.

He said:

“Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning and most people recover from the bug in four to seven days without requiring any treatment other than rest and plenty of liquid.”

The Leicester Mercury, in a report filed 19th December reported that Colin Whetton of Beaumont Leys had been planning to have lunch with his wife and daughter at the restaurant on Christmas Day.

Mr. Whetton said:

“It’s annoying for us because we had to find another place to eat and we’ve had to pay quite a bit more.”

The newspaper item also said customer Chris Hill had booked for a party of 15 to eat at the restaurant on Christmas Day and said 

“This has left us with a week to make alternative arrangements. I went there to gain information and wasn’t even allowed on site.”

A number of disgruntled patrons took to commenting on Facebook saying how they were disappointed at only finding out about the closure by social media, leaving them unable to successfully re-book elsewhere.

The restaurant’s Facebook page responded to the comments with a ‘standard’ statement, individually addressed, but stating the same text:

“Our team are working hard to contact all of our customers who had bookings with us over Christmas so hopefully you will have been contacted already. If you are still waiting to be contacted please private message us with the details of your booking, including the date, time, number in your party and the name it was booked under and we will pass this onto the team to contact you. Many thanks.”

The Food Standards Authority, who administer the rating system, awarded the Grove Farm Restaurant 1 Star (out of a possible 5) in June 1915.

In response to the June 1915 assessment, the business responded:

We are disappointed at this change in rating, as we have always been very proud of our food hygiene rating of 5.

This latest visit came during one weekend of unexpected change for the pub during which we were experiencing some short-term staffing difficulties, and inspectors felt that supervision from the senior team in place at the time was not adequate.

With a new, highly experienced, management team now installed, we are confident that our usual high standards have been re-established and will continue to monitor this as part of our goal to deliver the highest standards of food hygiene and customer satisfaction.

Placing the closure of Grove Farm in some sort of context; Cini restaurant, the highly respected and select dining establishment on High Street, Enderby, also received a 1 Star rating in March 2015. The business did not post a response on the FSA website and remains open during the current festive season.

Similarly, Aspects at the Plough received a 1 Star rating a little over a year ago and did not post a response at the time. Aspects is a highly popular dining establishment and has been taking bookings for the 2015 festive season.

Several people commenting on the story in the Leicester Mercury complained that, after learning about the closure on social media, they contacted the restaurant and were told the closure was due to a ‘gas leak’ and in another case, a ‘water leak’.

Note:  The food hygiene rating or inspection result given to a business reflects the standards of food hygiene found on the date of inspection or visit by the local authority.

The food hygiene rating is not a guide to food quality.

The information provided on businesses is held on behalf of local authorities participating in the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme in England.

Supporting sources:
Food Standards Agency
Leicester Mercury (News item 19th Dec 2015)

[Photo: Enderby EYE]



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