A popular restaurant in Pace, Florida, has reopened after authorities closed its investigations into seven patrons who fell ill after ingesting food allegedly contaminated with methamphetamines.
Positive for meth: Spouses Jordan and Nicole Gray, their friend Matthew Gilley and an additional family of four tested positive for methamphetamines after ingesting food from Nikko Japanese Steak House on June 9, as confirmed by the drug test results conducted by the Santa Rosa Medical Center.
“It’s taken a toll on me mentally not knowing if I’ll ever be back to the way I was,” Gilley said in a press conference held on June 14.
“What if my 5-year-old had been there,” Jordan Gray, a nurse, said. “She is very petite. I don’t think she would have survived that. I’m quite certain she wouldn’t have.”
According to the official report from the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, multiple employees told deputies that on the day of the incident, a co-worker acted suspiciously
and was walking in and out claiming to be looking for a missing object.
While the employees believe that the co-worker inadvertently got the food contaminated, there were no eyewitnesses or surveillance footage to corroborate the claims.
“It is believed based on the statements from the workers that (the employee) possibly unknowingly contaminated the food, but this cannot be confirmed,” said the reporting officer.
The restaurant’s manager also spoke of a man
dressed as a hibachi chef who was present in their kitchen and claimed to be a recent hire.
According to staff members, the man had visited the kitchen approximately three times before the manager asked him to leave the premises. He lingered in the parking lot for a couple of hours, purportedly waiting for someone to pick him up.
Further investigation revealed that the man had recently quit his job at another sushi restaurant after allegedly being promised a raise that was never delivered. While he did submit an application to work at the Nikko Japanese Steak House, he was never officially hired.
False positive results: Investigators conducted field tests on soy sauce bottles at the hibachi tables and they yielded “presumptive positive” results for methamphetamine. However, when they also tested unopened soy sauce packets meant for to-go orders, they also produced presumptive positive results.
The deputy conducting the tests considered these readings to be false positives. The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office concluded the investigation stating it will not pursue criminal charges due to a lack of evidence in identifying the culprit responsible for the contamination.
Deep remorse: The restaurant reopened on June 14 and released a statement on its social media page expressing deep remorse over the incident.
“We can assure you that this was an isolated incident that in no way reflects our service as a whole,” the statement read.”From the moment we were informed of the incident, we closed the doors and cooperated fully with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, the Health Department, and all inspectors who combed every inch of our restaurant and found us in complete compliance, with no violations.”