California Pizza Kitchen Reopens After Norovirus Cleansing

The downtown Walnut Creek restaurant opens its doors again just a few days after it was closed due to the norovirus

has reopened its doors after a quick scrubbing down following an outbreak of norovirus.

The popular downtown restaurant reopened at 3 p.m. Saturday, said regional manager Chris Hedges.

A cleaning crew that specializes in norovirus was brought in Saturday morning and Contra Costa County health officials inspected the facility that same day, said Hedges.

The regional manager said the company was "very pro-active" about getting the restaurant open again.

He said business has been good since the restaurant reopened Saturday. The eatery was indeed half full at 2 p.m. Monday.

Hedges said some customers probably weren't aware of the closure while others were happy about the reopening.

"It's great to get the support of the community and our customers who realize that accidents sometimes happen," said Hedges.

The pizza restaurant closed abruptly Thursday evening after tests by county health officials revealed the presence of norovirus. Three employees and two customers tested positive for the disease.

One Walnut Creek family wrote to Patch, saying they became ill after eating at California Pizza Kitchen on Friday, June 9. They reported their illnesses to the county health department the following Thursday.

Dr. Marilyn Underwood, the county's environmental health director, said they've received reports from 60 people now who said they became sick after eating at California Pizza Kitchen. The victims ate at the restaurant between June 7 and June 13.

Underwood said her department gave the go-ahead to reopen after the restaurant staff cleaned the facility on Friday and the specialty company scrubbed it down on Saturday.

She said her department also trained three restaurant employees on norovirus awareness and cleaning. Only those three staff members were allowed to work on Saturday.

Another dozen employees were trained over the weekend. A training in Spanish will be held on Wednesday. Only employees who've gone through the training will be allowed to return to work.

Underwood said California Pizza Kitchen will be on probation for one year. County health officials will make additional surprise inspections during that time period.

On Monday evening, California Pizza Kitchen released the following statement.

“In full cooperation with the Environmental Health Division of the Contra Costa County Health Services Department, California Pizza Kitchen in Walnut Creek took swift and comprehensive action to address this isolated incident.  We partnered with an accredited sanitation company to complete a rigorous cleansing to protect and ensure the health and safety of our patrons.  The Health Services Department provided additional training to our entire team Saturday morning and we were pleased to learn we had been cleared to reopen the restaurant Saturday afternoon. The safety and welfare of our customers and employees is of the utmost importance to us and we remain committed to ensuring that California Pizza Kitchen delivers the best possible dining experience to our guests.” – Kim Boerema, Chief Operations Officer, California Pizza Kitchen

Liz June 18, 2012 at 09:53 PM
I had to take my younger sister into the emergency room due to this disgusting norovirus. We arrived at the ER at 9 pm and didnt leave until 5am the next morning. She had to be given 3 bags of saline. For Hedges to call this accident is bullshit, a restaurants top priority should be cleanliness. This is just down right laziness on their part, and I don't think myself or friends and family who know about the virus will ever return to CPK in Walnut Creek.
PH Fan June 19, 2012 at 01:07 AM
I don't think I will ever go there agin...GROSS!!!
PH Fan June 19, 2012 at 01:07 AM
I don't think I will ever go there agin...GROSS!!!
CT- West June 19, 2012 at 03:29 AM
This is only suppose to happen in places like Richmond or Pittsburg right ? Not good clean WC and certainly not Broadway , my gosh what is this world coming too.
Kona June 19, 2012 at 03:58 AM
What a load of horse shite!!!! This doesn't happen everyday; management needs some new blood.. Sanitation is a on going priority no matter if the staff speaks English or not! Sanitize, Clean, Sanitize, and CLEAN. There is no excuse for stupid when you have been in business for several years.
srl99 June 19, 2012 at 02:07 PM
This is the sort of incident that would drive a normal restaurant (non-politically connected, without a corporate PR dep't and deep pockets out of business). If you're unhappy about the situation and the response - just let all of your friends know. If story goes viral, they will have a deeper response and potentially move on. What was the source of the noro-virus? Bad pizza dough?
srl99 June 19, 2012 at 02:19 PM
There are a number of entries on yelp about their noro virus. They won't be there long, Yelp cowtows to their customers ADVERTISERS.
jen June 21, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Absolutely true, Liz. The worst of it is that the average person didn't even hear the closure, and blindly takes their family to eat there. Environmental Health should post something on their door that stays up for at least 30 days saying that the restaurant had been closed down due to Norovirus and let people decide if they want to eat there or not.
jen June 21, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Agree. We need to make sure the public knows. Environmental Health should be responsible and post on CPK's window so that local consumers who didn't hear about the closure and all these illnesses can make an educated decision whether they want to risk it or not.
Jeninreality June 21, 2012 at 11:37 PM
I heard about this through word of mouth and was appauled by the news. I ate at CPK about a year ago and the food and service was less than par so it won't take a virus to keep me from visiting again. I agree with "jen" in that they should have to post a notice to the public of the findings for at least 30 days. I find the quote in the article about the "Spanish training" rather odd considering if you are living and working in the U.S. you SHOULD be able to speak English. That is a whole other issue.
srl99 June 21, 2012 at 11:55 PM
If you are living and working in the US you should be able to speak English?? That's naive. You could be born in the US (legal citizen) and not speak English. Want your food prepared by Anglophones? That's your perogative, but if you check the staff, you may be surprised. Also your perogative to spend your money ONLY at establishments which meet your standards. Don't assume the kitchen at Cheesecake Factory or any "American" chain is English speaking.
Fred Kass June 24, 2012 at 06:00 AM
This is NOT a surprise to those of us that know the restaurant from the "inside." To reduce food costs the kitchen staff changes the dating on the food so as to extend the use life and keeping it on the line longer than it is supposed to be. This violates company policy but at the same time the company places tremendous pressure on the local staff to maintain and reduce food costs (which increase when the throw the food away). It is a total scam and the health officials in Contra Costa and Alameda should be doing surprise inspections to catch them in the act.
Fred Kass June 24, 2012 at 06:03 AM
As for the English comment many (sometimes the entire kitchen) of the staff are undocumented and the company managers know it. They work on fake papers. Because these type of restaurants (Chevys, CPK...) pay minimum wage that is what they can attract. Culinary school graduates who work as cooks get at least $15 or so an hour in an entry level job and these places have no intention of paying that.


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