Sushi restaurants suffer drop in business due to hepatitis A outbreak

Many restaurants, even if they never sold tainted scallops, say they’re hurting more than ever now since the Department of Health identified the source of the hepatitis A outbreak earlier this week.

The health department said scallops served at Genki Sushi are to blame for sickening more than 200 people. Because of that, all Genki Sushi locations on Oahu and Kauai remain closed this Saturday.

But other restaurants that serve sushi and raw seafood are suffering as well, and have seen a drop in business because of the outbreak.

A majority of the restaurants didn’t want to be interviewed out of fear it would make business drop even more.

Even though the open sign was flashing in the window of Fresh Ahi Off the Boat on Keeaumoku Street, there were plenty of empty chairs.

“We’re a small business and it’s hard enough just to get by day to day,” said owner Chung Chang. “It’s affecting us a lot. … Actually, this week, one day, 50 percent drop in business and we’re like, oh my gosh, can’t believe it.” All of Chang’s employees have been vaccinated.

Regular customers are also changing up their orders, choosing cooked items over their usual raw favorites.

Chang says overall they’ve lost between 30 and 40 percent in revenue. And his restaurant isn’t alone — business at places like Kuru Kuru Sushi has slowed.

But the business has taking precautions to offer people peace of mind, posted an alert on their website and restaurant doors.

Even though their distributor was not involved in the outbreak, they’ve pulled all scallop items from their menu until the DOH gives the all-clear

Chang says he expects business to remain slow as long as new cases of hepatitis A are diagnosed.

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