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Restaurant Closed After Video Showed Owner Washing Kitchen Equipment in a Lake

After the video was posted to Facebook, the health inspector temporarily closed No. 1 Chinese Restaurant in Tennessee.

by Bettina Makalintal
29 August 2019, 6:30am

Photos: Westend61 via Getty Images; 
stockstudioX and Joyce Grace via iStock/Getty Images Plus; Collage by MUNCHIES Staff

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Old Hickory, Tennessee's No. 1 Chinese Restaurant has pretty decent reviews, save for a Yelp comment from last year claiming its food has a "hint taste [sic] of soap or some other type of cleaner." It turns out, however, that when it comes to washing, that might be the least of the restaurant's problems.

Lance Glover and his girlfriend were visiting the nearby Old Hickory Lake yesterday, when they saw the restaurant's owners in the lake, scrubbing down kitchen supplies. In a video that Glover shared with FOX17 Nashville and posted on Facebook, someone is crouched down in the water cleaning a rack, followed by a second person who brings along plastic containers.

Local backlash followed, leading someone to call the health inspector. The health inspector closed the restaurant immediately, gave the owners a citation, and instructed them to wash and disinfect all food surfaces and equipment before being allowed to reopen, NewsChannel5 reported. The restaurant reopened last night, having apparently met the Health Department's terms.

The owners of the restaurant initially told the health inspector that only thing they washed in the lake was rags for home use, which they did for purported cultural reasons. But after FOX17 reporter Harriet Wallace shared Glover's video, the owners admitted to the health inspector that they had also washed a cooking drain and rack.

"Their explanation was it was a drain that collected a lot of grease, and they wanted to wash it somewhere where that grease wasn’t going down their drain," Hugh Atkins, Director of the Bureau of Environmental Health Services at the Metro Health Department, told NewsChannel5. "It's disturbing to see something like that."

As the owners' daughter Michelle Pan told FOX17, her parents have been washing kitchen supplies in the lake without any reports of illness, and none of the items seen in the video directly touch food anyway. That was backed up by an anonymous local resident, who showed NewsChannel5 other videos of the restaurant's employees washing kitchen items in the lake.

Until now, the restaurant has had a pretty clean record of health inspections, having earned a minimum of 85 out of 100 in every inspection in the past two years. That, however, might have been because health inspectors were looking in the restaurant as opposed to, uh, around it.