After closing down amid a massive norovirus outbreak, the Chipotle outpost on Cleveland Circle in Boston will reopen Thursday, reports WCVB-TV. The restaurant temporarily shuttered for intensive cleaning after several illnesses were first reported on December 7.
Boston Inspectional Services told the city's ABC affiliate a second round of samples from the restaurant tested negative for norovirus, and all employees tested negative as well. The source of the outbreak was a sick employee who has since been fired. The manager on duty at the time was also fired.
The restaurant is located near Boston College's campus, and most of those sickened — more than 120, according to the school — were students. No one was hospitalized, but the first lawsuit related to the outbreak was filed last week. In the wake of the public health disaster, Chipotle founder and CEO Steve Ellis made an appearance on the Today show and told Matt Lauer, "We are going to be the safest place to eat."
Unfortunately for Ellis and his company, Chipotle has much bigger issues than a norovirus outbreak at a single location. E. coli linked to the chain has sickened 58 people in 12 states in recent months, possibly from two separate strains, and the source still hasn't been discovered. The ongoing food safety issues have been killing Chipotle on Wall Street, where the company's stock has lost 34 percent of its value in the past two months.
Going forward, the chain that has always prided itself on a fresh, local vibe may begin to look a lot more like regular old fast food. In an attempt to prevent future foodborne illness outbreaks, Chipotle will implement new safety measures such as using pre-shredded cheese and some pre-chopped vegetables, and many ingredients will be pre-cooked, vacuum sealed, and shipped from a central commissary kitchen.