Hepatitis A Outbreak Merely Part Of Food Authenticity, Says Chi-Chi's Manager
Last week's outbreak of Hepatitis A, caused by a Chi-Chi's located near Pittsburgh, PA, is the largest known outbreak of the virus in history, causing many in the area to be justifiably wary of continuing to eat at the chain again. In fact, sales at the food court in the mall where the restaurant was located dropped 60% in the wake of the outbreak.
But Bill Pulmer, general manager of the eatery, protested the severe reaction, claiming that the outbreak was simply an intended part of the authentic Mexican atmosphere Chi-Chi's attempts to replicate.
"Listen, I can't tell you how many friends I've had who went down to Mexico and got a nice big case of giardia, or some horrible stomach cramps," he said. "And hell, I'm sure I'm not alone. Mexico just doesn't have the safety regulations we do here in the U.S., and what is Chi-Chi's? That's right: an authentic Mexican restaurant. Given what we are, I would say that it's really no surprise people are sick."
In fact, Pulmer went so far as to say that he was considering incorporating these dangerous health issues into the menu of his Chi-Chi's.
"Picture this: you get a large value meal, and you receive a free cup of dirty water," he said, imagining the deal with a far-off look in his eyes. "Maybe your water simply has too much bacteria in it, or maybe you have something extravagant in there, like some kind of parasite. Who knows? It's wild, crazy fun, and you'll only find it at the most authentic Mexican restaurant around."
When told that some people may not desire any kind of sickness or disease from eating at Chi-Chi's, Pulmer claimed that such thoughts only come from "uncultured" individuals.
"I don't know what kind of thick-headed bozo would look at our sign stating 'Authentic Mexican Cuisine' and not expect some kind of health compromise," he said incredulously. "That just basic geography."
Furthermore, Pulmer says, other eateries in America claiming to be representative of a certain region or culture are not authentic enough.
"Why don't I get cursed at when I order from a New York-style pizza shop?" he demanded. "Why doesn't anyone drive by and shoot me in the face when I buy a 'Philly Cheesesteak' in Minnesota? I'll tell you why: this country has lost its culture, and people don't expect these little nuances and special quirks anymore. Chi-Chi's just preserves this, but some people seem to have a problem with it."
When asked if he appreciated the effort by the restaurant to retain culture, Tim Kulman, who received hepatitis A from the restaurant, did not provide a comment due to him being dead from complications from the disease.
But according to Pulmer, "silence gives consent".
"I'm sure Mr. Kulman, before unfortunately passing away, marveled at his disease," Pulmer said. "He received an authentic Mexican meal, and he did even have to get on a plane! What a lucky, lucky man."
But Susan Yardly, manager of the entire East Coast region of Chi-Chi's restaurants, claims that Pulmer's comments are not representative of the entire Chi-Chi's corporation.
"We in no way condone Mr. Pulmer's comments, and in fact do not even know who he is," she said.
Pulmer began to respond to this when our reporter relayed the comment to him, but was then led away by two white-suited men, who called him "Ben" and chided him from escaping again.