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UPDATED: Williamsburg Chinese restaurant, closed over dead deer incident, can reopen with some restrictions

Workers at Red Flower Chinese Restaurant in Williamsburg loaded a trash can filled with something into the trunk of a car shortly after the restaurant was closed down by health inspectors Thursday. The closure came when a dead deer was discovered inside.

A Williamsburg Chinese restaurant, which was shut down when a dead deer was found inside it Thursday afternoon, will have to undergo increased inspections, when it re-opens.

Paul Lawson, an environmentalist with the Whitley County Health Department, said that the restaurant would be allowed to reopen after a thorough wash, rinse and sanitizing of every area of the restaurant that the deer was in.

Lawson said Tuesday morning that restaurant owners hadn't contacted him yet about doing a re-inspection.

"When they reopen, the inspection interval is going to increase to quarterly to start with. We will see how that goes and go from there," Lawson said. "If we think there is a need to increase that even further, we will.

"This will probably be done for at least one year. Then we will re-evaluate and make that determination at that time whether we need to keep it at quarterly intervals or if it can go back to a twice a year normal inspection rate."

The incident has made headlines across Kentucky, Tennessee and elsewhere since it was first reported on the News Journal's website early Thursday evening.

Television stations in Knoxville and Lexington have contacted Lawson and on Tuesday morning Lawson did a telephone interview with WGN radio out of Chicago.

He even got a call from a former intern now living in Nashville about it.

"It seems like everybody knows about it," Lawson noted.

Lawson confirmed that the same owner was planning to open a restaurant in Corbin.

Lawson said he envisions that the negative publicity will probably impact the planned Corbin restaurant from a business perspective, but not from the health's department perspective.

"From my standpoint, it is totally two separate restaurants so it won't affect it," he added.

The Williamsburg restaurant faces no fines over what happened.

First reported

Co-workers Katie Hopkins, Tonya Thacker and Jennifer Young were sitting inside The Red Flower restaurant during lunchtime Thursday when they observed somebody wheeling in a garbage can with a hoof and tail sticking out with a box on top of it.

Hopkins said that she is picky about her food and wasn't eating but was just sitting there with her friends when the deer was pushed by.

"Two of them had a round garbage can on wheels and they had a box sitting on top of the garbage can. I saw like a tail sticking out of the garbage can and then like a hoofed leg sticking out of the garbage can. I was like, 'Oh my gosh!'" Hopkins said.

Hopkins said there was a blood trail behind the garbage can that the staff was mopping up behind them.

"I walked up to the front counter and I asked them 'What did you just wheel back into your kitchen?'" Hopkins said.
The restaurant employee told the trio he didn't know the American word for it.

"I said, 'You just wheeled a dead animal back in your kitchen.' He said, 'No. No. I don't know what you are talking about.' I said, 'I saw it. I want to see it.' He said, 'No. You're not allowed in my kitchen. You need to leave,'" Hopkins said.

Hopkins left and called the health department, and one of her friends called the maintenance person for the mall.

"It was just unbelievable. It is definitely not something that you want to see in a restaurant while you are eating," Hopkins said.
Thacker said that initially she thought it was a goat or maybe a cat's tail.

"I hadn't seen a deer with that big a tail before," Thacker added.

Thacker and Young said that unfortunately they had just gotten done eating when this occurred.

"Needless to say I went straight next door and regurgitated everything," Thacker said.

Young said that fortunately she hadn't eaten much meat, just the General Tso's. At this point, she is not quite sure if it was chicken that she was eating though.

She kept her lunch down.

All three agreed that they would never eat at the restaurant again.

"I'll probably never eat Chinese again," Young noted.

"I heard that they are opening another one. I am definitely going to find out the name of that restaurant and never eat there either," Thacker added.

Inspector findings

Lawson said that he responded to the restaurant after the health department's environmental clerk received several calls around 1:30 p.m. about The Red Flower restaurant having a deer inside. He was "shocked" by what he discovered when he arrived there about 2:30 p.m.

"I proceeded to the restaurant to do a complaint inspection and confirmed that they did have a deer partially processed by the time I got there," Lawson said.

"Obviously that is an imminent health hazard to be processing road kill in a restaurant so I issued them a cease of operations notice to close immediately and we went through the steps they will need to do to reopen."

Once the restaurant passes its re-inspection, it will be allowed to reopen. It's up to the restaurant how hard it wants to work to get it to the point of re-inspection, Lawson said.

Take home?

Lawson said that the owners told him they planned to take the deer meat home to eat. The meat was in quarters when he arrived and not cut up into individual sized portions in a back room.

It wasn't in the immediate food preparation area and no other food preparation was going on when Lawson arrived.

Lawson said he would hope that the restaurant wouldn't serve the deer to patrons, but he couldn't say with 100 percent certainty that they wouldn't.

"I try to educate and let them know what they can do, but you can't be with someone 24-7," he added.

"They said they didn't know they weren't allowed to do that, which makes me concerned they could have done that before, but they didn't admit to doing it before."

Can't serve wild game

Lawson said that this was the first call of this nature that he has gotten during his 14 years working for the health department.

Lawson said that while he has found processed wild game in restaurants before, he has never found the whole animal inside one and hopes to never find one again.

"You're not allowed to have true wild game in a restaurant period. It is a violation to have it even in the premise," he said.
Wild game meat isn't allowed because it hasn't been through a F.D.A. inspection process before it is offered for human consumption.

Lawson said there are a variety of reasons why it is bad to be processing the animal in a restaurant, including disease transmission.

"There are all kinds of diseases that can be transmitted through the intestines if fecal matter is still obviously in part of the intestines. There are all kinds of bad things inside an animal that you don't want inside a restaurant," Lawson said.

"It is bad enough that they would have just deer meat in there, which is not allowed. They were actually processing the deer. They were actually skinning the deer. They actually took it from the side of the road as it was into the restaurant."

Cited to court

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Sgt. Tom Land cited Hong Yang, 28, of Williamsburg, for illegal possession of whitetail deer Thursday afternoon.

According to the arrest citation, the deer "was possessed inside a public restaurant."

Lawson said that Yang is the significant other of restaurant owner Zong Chao.

Land said that this was the first call of this nature that he has ever received.

"I have been here 20 years and this is a first for me," he added.

Land said that even a road-kill deer has to be tagged or you are illegally in possession of it.

"Even if you find a deer that has been hit on the road, it is illegal for you to possess a deer without a tag. We give you a road kill tag. If you find one, we need to know about it and we'll get you the proper tag so you won't get in trouble," Land said. "If you just pick it up and we catch you with it, it is a fine. It is a citable offense."

Land said the deer was a small buck, which already had the antlers cut off when he arrived at the restaurant about 4 p.m.

Lawson said that one of the people working at the restaurant admitted to Land that he picked the animal up off the side of I-75.

Removing remains

About 4:40 p.m., two restaurant workers lined the trunk of a Toyota Camry with newspapers and then carried out something inside black plastic garbage bags.

About three minutes later, they wheeled a garbage can outside to the trunk of the car with something sticking out of the top of the garbage can covered in a black plastic garbage bag. They hoisted the garbage can, which they rested on the trunk with the garbage bag still sticking out of the top and the trunk open and went back inside.

Lawson confirmed that he watched the restaurant workers remove the remains of the deer before he left the restaurant Thursday.

When asked if they had any comment on the incident, the restaurant staff asked only that their pictures not be used.



katie hopkins (September 27, 2012) Reply

It was utterly disguisting....

Avram Dougherty (September 28, 2012) Reply

Who lied to the person writing this article by telling him/her that they were a reporter? If they wrote the proverbial story about a man biting a dog, they'd screw it up and report that the dog did the biting instead of the man.

Joe (September 28, 2012) Reply

Should change the name of the restraunt to "The Roadkill Cafe" mmmm awesome possum. Just eat around the tire marks.

Dave (September 28, 2012) Reply

"Oh my, I found a dead animal inside of a restaurant!?!?!" No matter the source of your meat, it is all dead animals. This sounds like one of the "Whitely County Problems," they expect to go to a $6 buffet and eat a $20 meal. Maybe they shouldn't have had a dead deer inside their restaurant, and especially not during operating hours, but it's not as big of a deal as these ladies, and I use that term lightly, are making it out to be.

Karen (September 28, 2012) Reply

I don't think the ladies are the ones that closed the restaurant. The HEALTH DEPARTMENT closed them down so yeah I think this is a big deal!!!

Dave (September 28, 2012) Reply

It's not the closing of the restaurant that is appalling, it's the way these women conducted themselves. The food they ate, and even the deer would not have killed them, and more than likely not have even made them sick. If people saw what happened during food manufacturing for any supermarket food, Taco Bell meat, McDonald's meat, and any other form of mass produced food, people would not eat any of it. Guess what it doesn't kill them, and these people would have probably done just as well of any of these examples.

Josh Faught (September 28, 2012) Reply

I think for Thacker to claim that she thought it was a "cat's tail" and for the others to mention how "they regurgitated" and " will never have Chinese again" is a bit much. In fact, it's borderline racist. For many years Chinese restaurants have been plagued with ignorant statements of "cat meat" and Thacker's, and others, actions are just as ignorant. It isn't like they used the deer in their food and one Chinese restaurant doing something stupid is no indication of all Chinese restaurants or of Chinese people. The paper has done a horrible job in reporting this story for allowing such racist bias; there was no need to include the ignorant rants and racist opinions of these three women.

Kay (September 28, 2012) Reply

For everyones info they had a grinder there that they was going to use to make hamburger patties for them selfs, to take to there home. I have personally been to there home, these are clean and respectable people. I will eat at the old or new restaurant any time. I trust them. The boy made a mistake, back off no one is perfect.

Charles (September 28, 2012) Reply

Calm down the average American consumes one pound of insect parts and rodent hairs in their food each year...........................................

Nicole (September 28, 2012) Reply

The point is not that these women were disgusted by what they saw, but that this restaurant was doing something that was deemed unsafe and unhealthy. How could you eat somewhere that would dress a deer in the kitchen where the same food you would eat is cooked? This is not about the women, but about the unsanitariness of these people.

karen (October 01, 2012) Reply

This restaurant and the owner should be never allowed to open a Food establishment in USA! Now if i ever go to a chineses restaurant I will wonder what im eating !!! Good job Health Dept ! Hope London knows better !!!

Fred (September 28, 2012) Reply

Nicole, you're response is just simply wrong. No one is denying that what the restaurant did was stupid; HOWEVER, it's just that: a stupid mistake. This wasn't an ongoing problem but a simple laps in judgement. They weren't serving deer, there wasn't roaches or dead rats. This situation is analogous to a person that gives a little girl a ride home: while its probably not a good deal to give offer a five year old a ride home, giving a ride home doesn't mean its child rape. You all, though, are turning something simple into something much larger. ------------------------------------------ So yes, I agree with the above poster. For the paper to publish the overwhelming responses of three women was improper. The women are entitled to their opinion, but there was no need to publish it. Honestly I hope the Chinese people file a law suite for discrimination. The News Journal is not privileged to discriminate against a race yet it does so with publishing the ignorant opinions of three ignorant women.

Joy (September 28, 2012) Reply

I sure these women think your ignorant. I do!

Fred (September 28, 2012) Reply

Well Joy, since you apparently didn't too well in high school english I don't give a **** what you think. Here's a tip for you: there is a difference between "your" and "you're".

Just sayin (September 28, 2012) Reply

Hey dummy look at YOUR very first sentence haha. If you call somebody out on something, don't be so ignorant. I just had to point that our because it makes an otherwise good point look dumb

Wayne (September 29, 2012) Reply

And Fred how many "laps" in judgement have you had. You're not any better with english than Joy. Nothing wrong with hunting, wild meat, or even eating fresh roadkill, but, I wouldn't trust any restaurant that was caught red handed with roadkill in their kitchen. Any one that thinks that's is alright, is not right.

Lynn (September 28, 2012) Reply

A few years back I was driving to work when a large deer jumped into my pathway, the deer didn't make, neither did my front end of my truck, a police officer offered a road kill tag to take the deer with me... I gave it to another the had stop to help me at the time. It's one thing to clean a deer out at home in the back yard, but to dress one out where food prep is done is another thing altogether. What is the criteria to allow them to reopen? and who in their right mind would want to eat there again?

Lynn (September 28, 2012) Reply

A few years back I was driving to work when a large deer jumped into my pathway, the deer didn't make, neither did my front end of my truck, a police officer offered a road kill tag to take the deer with me... I gave it to another the had stop to help me at the time. It's one thing to clean a deer out at home in the back yard, but to dress one out where food prep is done is another thing altogether. What is the criteria to allow them to reopen? and who in their right mind would want to eat there again?

david (September 28, 2012) Reply

Be sure to keep this in mind when you eat a hot dog at tonight's game. I think I would rather have a deer burger, I have seen hot dogs made. Ugh

david (September 28, 2012) Reply

Be sure to keep this in mind when you eat a hot dog at tonight's game. I think I would rather have a deer burger, I have seen hot dogs made. Ugh

Ashlee (September 28, 2012) Reply

I understand that it is unhealthy to dress a deer in the kitchen, but not to be racist, they probably didn't know any better. They just wanted to clean it and take it home. They obviously were hiding it from the customers, but I worked at a Japanese restaurant and they used to bring in Octopus's and Crawdad's and dress them and fix them for themselves even though it wasn't on the menu. Yes, they had a lapse in judgement or were just ignorant, but as I've all have no idea what is in your food when your feeding your whole family at Mcdonald's and Burger King. So everyone just needs to calm down and quit freaking out.

ellie may (September 28, 2012) Reply

Has no one ever processed a deer at home? I have, in my kitchen, on the table, used the counter and sink too. When it was all over it went in the freezer and the kitchen was cleaned up in a sanitary manner. Give me a break, it's deer meat, probably healthier to eat than other meats that are raised with steroids, antibiotics and all the other stuff that it is treated with!

Landon (September 29, 2012) Reply

Ahh come on Josh!! Why does the big card "RACISM" have to be played anytime an incident involves two?? Thats just jackedup BS IMO.. Fact is an employee took a dead animal into a cooking area.. If home is where they were going to prepare it then home is where it should have been taken. Pretty funky just to think you could be eating a maggot for rice.. SERIOUSLY roadkill + 80 degree temps does not = good2go no matter what day it is packed on!!!

Teresa (September 29, 2012) Reply

I wish they had a real restaurant that could legally serve wild meat. That kind of meat is more decent than these chemically grown animals that they do serve. I have helped clean and eat deer many times, therefore as long as you clean after the dressing of a deer it is just as clean as the blood and guts of a farm raised animal. Honestly the restaurant made a mistake, so lets not be too quick to condemn and judge.

Nathans Hotdogs (September 29, 2012) Reply

The owner should have taken the Deer to a professional butcher shop and then took it home. But he chose the cheap way out like ALL restaurant owners do. If you want to talk about disgusting the health dept recently closed Shoney's in Corbin for excessive bug infestation. And lets not forget Hunan's years ago in Corbin when there was severe rodent infestation. I've been all over the world and seen all kinds of filth.

Bubba (September 29, 2012) Reply

Maybe if these fat a$$es were at home eating a healthy home cooked meal this would have never happened....this is a case of lazy people eating at a stuff all you can down your gullet place instead of staying at home and cooking....typical lazy wonder we are so overweight in this country. Eat out food is disgusting anyway. Bring your lunch to work and save yourself a ton of money.

Carl Childers (September 30, 2012) Reply

Mmmmmm i like french fried cat

susan (October 01, 2012) Reply

which is worse being closed for having a dead deer or closed because of roach infestation as Corbin's Shoney's?

Paul (October 01, 2012) Reply

You gotta wonder. Is this the first time they picked up roadkill, or the first time they got caught?

Tria (October 02, 2012) Reply

This article makes me hungry for some Chinese food! MMMM HMMMM

Big deal - get over it and learn to spell idiots. (October 02, 2012) Reply

I meant to comment on this the other day but since Yahoo covered it, I'll just recomment what I commented on yahoo. "I personally live in Williamsburg, Kentucky and go by this place daily, I have seen the people there quite a few times and shop at that mall twice a week or more. These people are very clean and very nice. The local Williamsburg newspapers covered this horribly. The area we live in is beyond racist and it is just sad to see everyone downing these nice people. They made a mistake, but these plebeian idiot females were just looking to cause problems for some Chinese people, why? because they're racist, like everyone else in South Eastern Kentucky, if this happened in a Caucasian restaurant I bet you it would not have Yahoo coverage no less it would be a big deal here. People kill and hunt deer here all the time, these inane women act like they never had eaten it before. In the local paper it so nicely explains how one girl threw up and the other managed to "keep her food down, but wasn't sure what she ate, it might have been cat!" Come on, get a grip. Then one of the ladies comments on the newspaper comment area "that was utterly disguisting" She can't even spell disgusting correctly, that goes to show you how idiotic these people are. I would be more understanding if it was a human lol... that'd be a crazy one, but a deer is no big deal, especially since 99.9% of the population here eat deer anyway, even a dog or cat would be more understanding... but it's a deer. I have friends tell me all the time, well it's hunting season, time to go kill some deer. So where is the big deal in this?"

Lou (October 03, 2012) Reply

They're probably still celebrating the Harvest Moon Festival with their wonderful deer meat. The Chinese eat deer & wild game for medicinal health. Of course, there's no hormones nor antibiotics like the meat we buy at the market. Too bad they were didn't know any better. They should had taken it home to take care of. I would like to buy venison to cook.

Fred (October 03, 2012) Reply

Yummy $6 buffets. I have seen people go into Chinese restaurants and walked out because they don't serve buffets. You get what you pay for.

hope (October 06, 2012) Reply

O.K people what's the big what it's a freaking deer.these people like deer.I'm pretty sure these girls have seen dead animals before.If you live around these parts you have ate pleanty of wild life.I'm sure this boy did'nt realize he was doing wrong.don't judge other people .and these ladies went all drama.Cause I'm sure there family has ate and killed wild game.

Mikail (October 07, 2012) Reply

I hope everyone just quits going there. I've heard that some think because they're not from "here", they don't know any better. Bull! Anyone who has the funds and the composure to open a restaurant, should know better. Yeah, quarterly inspections are going to make a difference. Anyone stupid enough to go back in there. . .well, if any of them get sick, they shouldn't go crying to anyone. It's said that some offenders re-offend, what makes anyone think this idiot won't do it again?

shirley mains (October 15, 2012) Reply

leave it up to the locals to make a big deal out of nothing. the chinese restaurant made a mistake & I'm sure they will pay for it. and that should be the end of story. you all should be happy they were not cooking METH or MOONSHINE.

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