Business at Beaver Valley Mall Chi-Chi's nearly back

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A month after the Chi-Chi's Restaurant in Beaver Valley Mall reopened in the wake of a hepatitis A outbreak, it's almost back to business as usual.

Chief operating officer Bill Zavertnik said yesterday that more than 8,000 people have dined at the Mexican restaurant since Jan. 15. "While sales are not back to pre-outbreak levels, they are improving week to week," he said.

The restaurant voluntarily closed in early November when health officials realized that some of its patrons were infected with hepatitis A.

A batch of contaminated green onions appears to have caused the outbreak. Three people died, 660 became ill and more than 9,000 received shots of immune globulin to ward off infection.

The restaurant no longer uses green onions.

When Chi-Chi's re-opened its doors last month, 50 people were waiting in line in the cold. Soon after, the wait for a table was three hours long. The rush has since slowed.

Zavertnik said much of it is due to the cold weather.

"No one expected to see business stay at the level that we received that first weekend," he said.


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