The Cowfish reopens after illnesses from Norovirus

The Cowfish is a popular sushi and burger bar in Charlotte’s SouthPark area.
The Cowfish is a popular sushi and burger bar in Charlotte’s SouthPark area. COWFISH.COM VIA WBTV

The Cowfish restaurant in SouthPark reopened for business Tuesday, after closing twice in the last two weeks due to illnesses caused by Norovirus.

The popular sushi and burger bar voluntarily closed for cleaning on the evening of June 5 after it received multiple reports of patrons experiencing flu-like symptoms. The restaurant reopened on June 7.

The Cowfish closed again June 10, in response to reports of illness from three customers who visited the restaurant after it reopened June 7.

Late Monday the Mecklenburg County Health Department confirmed the illnesses were caused by Norovirus, the most common cause of food-borne illness.

Cowfish owner Alan Springate said in a statement Monday evening that the restaurant has taken “extraordinary measures” to ensure the safety of customers and employees going forward, “including multiple professional cleanings and closing for five days to eliminate all potential sources of the outbreak.”

In its Monday statement, the Health Department said “Cowfish management has been proactive and in constant contact with (health officials) throughout the process.” No specific food item was connected with the illness, the department said.

Norovirus causes an estimated 5 million food-borne illnesses in the U.S. every year, the Health Department said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus contributes to more than 56,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. every year.

The Cowfish, 4310 Sharon Road, received a 94 on its most recent health inspection April 6. It lost the most points for an incident in which a server scraped food from a dirty dish, then returned to work without washing his hands, according to an inspection report.

Since its first inspection in 2013, the restaurant has averaged a score of 96.1.

The Health Department said Cowfish followed all Centers for Disease Control guidelines in responding to this month’s outbreak.

Managers of some nearby restaurants said they’ve been seeing more business while The Cowfish has been closed. Across the street at Japanese restaurant Baku, hospitality manager Seth Glass said the uptick has been noticeable.

“You can definitely tell that a lot of people have come over,” he said.

Cowfish will resume its regular hours, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Peralta: 704-358-5079;

Twitter: @katieperalta