Dozens Sickened At Worcester Restaurant, Cause Unknown

By Beth Germano, WBZ-TV

WORCESTER (CBS) – The health department in Worcester is trying to pinpoint the source of an outbreak of illness in patrons who ate Easter Sunday brunch at Luciano’s Cotton Club restaurant.

By Tuesday, the department started receiving calls that people had become violently ill, including vomiting and diarrhea, a number that has now reached at least 100.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports

“We received two calls starting Tuesday and at that point went to the establishment and did a full investigation,” said Amanda Wilson the city’s director of Housing, Health and Inspections.

The restaurant, wanting to defend its cleanliness and sanitary compliance, gave WBZ-TV a tour of the kitchen.

“This has nothing to do with brunch preparation,” said Alex Barbosa defending a small cooler the health department said was off-temperature Easter Sunday.

He said the problem was quickly corrected. He says his staff always uses gloves when handling food.

“It’s not from the food. I would put my reputation on the line that it’s not from the food,” he said.

Amanda Wilson says it’s more likely an employee who was sick at work spread a virus, but they’ve taken food samples and culture samples from patrons for testing and should have results in a few days.

Martin D’Amelio of Auburn says he had brunch at the restaurant with twenty family members, most of who became violently ill.

“Monday was okay, by Tuesday all heck broke out,” he said. “My stomach, my arm, my leg, it was a very painful feeling,” he said.

Barbosa insists it could have been something airborne as well in the wide open location of Union Station.

But he worries about the restaurant’s reputation. “Absolutely, it’s word of mouth,” he said. He may have lost one customer in Martin D’Amelio.

“We trust people at the restaurant. I wouldn’t trust that place again,” he said.

The restaurant says it will be reimburse any customers who became ill if they have documentation from the health department.

More from Beth Germano
  • Jackie D.

    My husband was hired at this company less than a year ago.He is 100% Serv Safe certified(he received a 100% on his Serv Safe Exam.) Upon working his first shift, he called it to the attention of the Kitchen Manager AND Mr. Barbosa that the refrigerators under the line were not being held at the proper temperature. He also pointed out that the foods being held in the large cooler were not being covered and panned properly, again, not holding at the SAFE appropriate temperature. There was also raw foods being stored over ready to eat foods like cheese, pre-0cooked chicken and other like foods.Anyone who works in food service knows that raw meats and foods are NEVER to be held OVER ready to eat foods.When my husband addressed this, he was told to pick his battles carefully because too much change will rattle the ship.Every time he complained, he was brushed off.He stayed there about 11 weeks before leaving. They do not follow proper food handling, the gloves were also for show.Employees will face termination if they call in sick, so there is a good possibility that someone knew there was a sick employee.This place has been a ticking time bomb for years.

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