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  • Writer's pictureVolume 82 Magazine

Japanese Steakhouse in Florida Remains Closed After Customers Tested Positive for Meth Poisoning

After seven people reported being poisoned by methamphetamines this summer from eating at Nikko Japanese Sushi Bar in Pace, Florida, the venue decided to permanently close. USA Today stated, “According to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office, seven people were poisoned with a narcotic after allegedly eating food prepared at a hibachi table at the restaurant.” Some of the patrons felt ill and went to the emergency room after their meals at the restaurant.

However, the owners of Nikko Japanese Sushi Bar did not face criminal charges from their customers' exposure to drugs. USA Today states, "The Sheriff's Office investigated the incident but closed the case without making an arrest because of a lack of evidence into how the seven people were poisoned. Three of the patrons announced through their attorney they had tested positive for methamphetamines and were seeking answers about how it happened. Per USA Today, "On June 9th, the day of the alleged poisoning, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation conducted an inspection at the restaurant and conducted a follow-up inspection on June 13th. Allegedly, three Nikko workers pointed out an employee that they felt was responsible for the food being tampered with. Although investigators didn’t have sufficient evidence to bring forward any charges, “the department found a total of 31 violations at the restaurant, including employees switching from preparing raw to ready-to-eat food without washing their hands and the restaurant was reporting with an expired Division of Hotels and Restaurants license, the PNJ reported."

Following the investigations, the owners posted a lengthy message on its Facebook account announcing its closure: "On June 10th, we heard, just like many of you did, of people being injured after eating at our restaurant," the post said. "From the moment the story broke, we cooperated with authorities and all licensing agencies. It was determined by the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's office that there was nothing linking the restaurant to the accusations, and after a clear survey by the health department, we re-opened our doors. We are so thankful to our regulars who came back to support us, unfortunately it just wasn't enough to keep the doors open."

Per USA Today, Nikko's owners said they were "brutally harassed," defamed, and slandered by the media. The owners blamed social media and news outlets for permanently shutting down despite the seven customers who were drug-poisoned. The business stated: "Today, a family-owned and operated business is closed, 20 employees are out of work, all because of the power of social media," the restaurant said. "We are heartbroken, but were unable to sustain the cost to stay open, when it seemed that every day, a local news outlet wanted to find something else to report on."

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