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Unlucky meal sickens diners

January 20, 2012

County health officials say at least 18 people reported being sick after eating at a Conover seafood restaurant late last week.

Citizens reported experiencing nausea, diarrhea and vomiting after eating at the Harbor Inn Seafood restaurant on Fairgrove Church Road.

"They reported that they ate there around Friday the 13th," said Kelly Isenhour, Catawba County Public Health's (CCPH) assistant health director. "Their illnesses seem to come on fairly quickly and intensely, and their symptoms seem to revolve around that day."

The O-N-E contacted Harbor Inn. Management did not return a call in time for this story.

Isenhour said CCPH's environmental health branch has not identified a specific food the people ate, and health officials have not linked the illnesses with a particular virus.

"At this point in time, we've not done any diagnoses on that, but we will continue to monitor if we get additional reports," she said. "We do consult with the state when we have anything like this. At this point, we have not been advised to do any diagnosis for gathering stool samples to help us clarify if a certain virus or bacteria is involved."

CCPH did not report additional recent incidents involving illnesses and Harbor Inn. Isenhour said people who reported illnesses said they knew of other people who were sick after eating at the restaurant on and around Jan. 13.

Environmental health officials have visited Harbor Inn several times in the last week to work with management to ensure safe food-handling practices.

"They've checked temperatures and made sure sanitizers are being used to kill viruses," Isenhour said. "They've suggested being more stringent about food-handling processes and cleaning. (Restaurant managers) have been cooperative and open to suggestions."

Clean record
Harbor Inn Seafood received high sanitation grades in recent inspections by the Catawba County Public Health's environmental health division. The most recent inspection, on Dec. 29, 2011, yielded a 99.5 score.


I did indeed eat at The

January 25, 2012 by Sanderson (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 943

I did indeed eat at The Oyster Bar on Friday night, the 13th. Myself and the other 3 that had dinner that night, we were all sick over the course of the next few days, all with the same symptoms. I had NO idea of this until reading in todays Hickory Daily Record and this article. In my opinion I feel that someone that worked in the kitchen was probably sick and came into work not realizing how contagious they were. I had heard that several of the waitstaff was sick as well as customers. The common denominator would be the kitchen staff. As far as the cleanliness of the place goes, they are top notch and this will not prevent me from going back. I hope they educate their staff well enough that this does not happen again.


January 25, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 946

How do you know know that the cleanliness of the Harbor Inn is top-notch, Mr. Sanderson? Have you been inside the kitchen? And another thing--A restaurant that's been operating for 23 years (as the "owner in hiding" claims) shouldn't need the Health Dept and the State to come in to educate his staff. The owner/manager should know how to educate them himself if he's been operating such a "fine" (laugh-laugh) and upstanding (laugh again) restaurant for such a long time!


January 25, 2012 by Concerned (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 948

Cricket it sounds like you have issues with Harbor Inn. The fact is this sounds like isolated cases due to the fact that Harbor Inn has been in business for 23 years and they have never had any problems with their sanitation scores. I find it very ironic that people can call the Health Department and jeopardize an established business, based on allegations. The Health Department has already checked the restaurant and did not find anything wrong!

What do you mean...based on

January 26, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 950

What do you mean...based on allegations? The people calling the Health Dept are people who have gotten "sick as a dog" (as the saying goes) after eating at this place! Maybe the "evidence" of the origin of the illness is no longer around, but who's to say it won't return? Especially if it's a nasty employee who doesn't wash their hands after using the bathroom! If people want to risk that happening and risk getting deathly ill, then let 'em graze on their seafood, salad, slaw, puppies, and whatever else they can get from a place that is undoubtedly contaminated. Enjoy your meal, "Concerned"!

There are more places than H.I. to eat Seafood!

January 24, 2012 by Very Concerned (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 940

Captain's Galley
Libby Hill
Jones Fish Camp

...just to name a few.

Haven't heard about people getting sick by the dozen from eating at these 3 places!

If you like Harbor Inn, then have at it!

January 24, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 938

All of you Harbor Inn Lovers who are posting here...if you think it's so great and if you think it's safe and sanitary to eat there, then you just go to it and eat til your bellies are full up because you can sure have my share of anything that comes out of that kitchen! Bet if you get sick 24 hours later and it starts coming from both ends, you just might change your tune about the place as you're hanging over the commode feeling like you'd rather be dead than to experiencing what you're going through. And for the dumbos who are posting "it's just a virus"...then do you care to explain why it's not happening to groups of people who have eaten at other area restaurants? Anybody who eats at the Harbor Inn is asking to get sick, so if that's what floats your boat, then eat and enjoy (being sick)!

Attention Slanderous Haters!

January 24, 2012 by Confused (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 937

I don't understand how some of these comments can be so far off... Especially now a days, after all the Mad Cow, Ecoli, Bird Flu, Pig Flu Etc.the Health department does not take illness lightly. If there was any validity or signs of unsanitation the doors would be closed. At the very least a "B" would be posted.
Backbone?.. Should i just call you Racist Red Neck. I am well aware of the ever growing Hispanic population in our community. However to assume every hispanic person working is an illegal is outragious. I am a small business owner with several hispanic employees working for me. The bottom line is that they are loyal, hardworking, Christian family people who pay taxes just like the rest of us.
Harbor Inn has the best seafood around and has for a long time. I will continue to eat there like have twice a week for the past 15 years. Let the Healh department do their job and all you slanderous Racists go find one.

backbone loser

January 24, 2012 by Concerned (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 935

Backbone sounds like he needs to pack up his trailer and move. It is easy to give your opinion online about something that does not even apply to the issue. If you are upset about others having successful jobs because you don't you should comment on another blog.

I love harbor inn. My family

January 24, 2012 by busymomof4 (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 934

I love harbor inn. My family has been eating there for years, and we love the quality and service it provides us. I think it is pathetic that people are commenting and blaming the restaurant when there is no proof that it is there fault.

Harbor inn

January 24, 2012 by Concerned (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 931

I have been eating at harbor inn for 20 years and it has always been a wonderful experience and excellent food! It is unfair to state that the restaurant is responsible for these isolated cases of viruses. This does not indicate that harbor inn is at all unsanitary. They are thoroughly and often inspected for sanitation and always have great sanitation scores. I think it is ignorant how people are slandering harbor inns name. Harbor inn has been serving our community for 30 years in Hickory.

Harbor Inn Seafood

January 23, 2012 by brandi (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 928

Every single person on here that has made a negative comment towards Harbor Inn Seafood has done nothing but exaggerate. Unless it is proven to be some sort of virus in Harbor Inn that you cannot spread or contaminate anywhere else, then you people need to GET A LIFE. There has been a gastrointestinal virus going around, not only in Harbor inn, much less Catawba County, or North Carolina for that matter. **HARBOR INN IS ONE OF THE MOST SANITARY RESTAURANTS IN CATAWBA COUNTY WITH A SANITATION SCORE OF 99.5%** So until it is proven that Harbor Inn is harboring a virus, than I REST MY CASE.

I can tell you EXACTLY why they got sick...l

January 23, 2012 by Backbone (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 918

...'cause they gat a bunch of ILLEGAL ALIENS working in the kitchen and they have demonstrably poor grasp of our sanitation laws and standards.

This is evidenced by anyone whoe has EVER traveled to Mexico, eaten at a restaurant and guess what..GOTTEN SICK>


You claim they have illegals

January 24, 2012 by Becker13 (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 933

You claim they have illegals working there? Based on what your opinion? There is a virus going around. My kids got sick a few weeks ago with what sounds like the same thing these people have. Does that mean it is Harbor Inns fault? We ate at another restaurant a day before but that does not mean that is where it came from. It is funny how when someone is down people line up to kick them.

Question for Becker13

January 24, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 939

Becker, got a question for you: The restaurant you ate at a few weeks ago and your kids got sick...did about 40 or 50 other people who ate at that restaurant that same night also get sick? (Oh...I didn't think so)!


January 25, 2012 by Becker13 (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 941

I know of 3 others that got sick after eating at the same restaurant. So yes there were others. Were there 40 or 50 who got sick at Harbor Inn? Maybe maybe not. You know just as well as I do that when something like that happens you have people come out of the woodwork looking for a payday. Could the waitress where we ate been carrying the virus? Sure she could have also another diner or someone in our family could have been carrying it or anyone we came into contact with the days before.

Harbor Inn

January 25, 2012 by Very Concerned (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 942

Who has said that somebody's "looking for a payday"? Nobody but you has mentioned this. Who's suing Harbor Inn? I haven't heard this news...and I doubt you have either!!! The people who I know that got sick just want the place either sanitized or shut down. Haven't heard a word from them about "wanting a payday". These people have their own payday...they have a job and work every day, well...every day except the one or two days they missed last week from being sick after eating at Harbor Inn and unable to go to work!

Why the people got sick

January 23, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 925

Dear "Backbone" are most likely correct. That's the problem--management prefers hiring "Cheap Illegals" over people who are Catawba County born & bred and who are out of work and need a job because they don't have to pay the the illegals half as much. Never mind that the illegals are nasty and filthy! Yep, "cheap illegals" over "clean local people" is their motto! Still don't know why the Health Dept doesn't shut down the Harbor Inn????????????????

This is not very nice. How

January 25, 2012 by Sanderson (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 944

This is not very nice. How rude to post such a comment. I am an American and always have been, this kind of remark is unnecessary. You need to contact Congress to stop illegals from allowed in the countyr. But in the end they are humans and deserve respect despite their race.

Msg to Sanderson

January 25, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 945

I have done all in my power MANY TIMES to voice my opinion about illegals. If you are fine with them invading us, then that's your opinion and you're entitled to it, and I'm entitled to mine.
They come here and all they want is free handouts. They have taken jobs away from people who were born and raised right here in this county because they will work for low wages. They weren't raised to know about cleanliness. I have been in public restrooms many times and observed that they don't flush the toilet and they don't wash their hands. If that's not a way to spread germs, then explain to me otherwise???????

Cricket Confused

January 25, 2012 by Concerned (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 949

Quit watching the political debates and making everything so personal. Last time I checked the name of this Country is still
"UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". Just because you got here first does not give you the right to judge anyone. Do some homework before you give your opionion, this is a virus that could have been passed on from customer to customer.

'Concerned' must be the CONFUSED one!

January 26, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 952

Concerned: I HAVE done my homework--I've talked to some of the sick people and their sickness was a horrible sickness. And let me remind you that this is what the comments section here is for--to give opinions, which I have given mine. So now you've given yours, too, and people can choose whether to eat at Harbor Inn or not eat there. But all I got to say is, if they want to chance getting sick--then let them go to it! There are other area seafood restaurants where this is not happening--so if I get a hankering for seafood, I'll have mine somewhere else.

Harbor Inn / Harbor Inn Oyster Bar

January 23, 2012 by Very Concerned (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 917

Just by word of mouth, I know of 40-50 people who got sick from eating at Harbor Inn and the total number would probably shock us all! Your article here is great and has helped spread the word; however from reading the article, one would think that this was an isolated incident that only occurred the weekend of Friday, Jan. 13th. I am certainly not faulting the ONE for this, since I'm sure the ONE reporter only reported what the spokesperson at the Health Dept told them.

I am posting to this article to inform you that this being an isolated incident was NOT the case! I know of more people who got sick AFTER THE WEEKEND of the 13th...people who ate there during this past week--3, 4, or 5 days ago. Conclusion: Unsanitary conditions still exist at Harbor Inn and something is causing people to continue to get sick! What is going to happen if an elderly person who is not in good health eats there and becomes ill? This could be a serious problem for an elderly person! It's not unheard of that something like this could cause the death of an elderly person! People, what everyone needs to know is that this is not a case where some of the people who got sick just threw up once and it was over...I'm talking a HORRIBLE sickness!

On behalf of the elderly and for their health and safety, PLEASE spread the word that those who have gotten sick after eating at this restaurant should call the Catawba County Health Dept and report it. The Health Dept must hear from the people affected in order to know the seriousness of this problem and so that they will continue to monitor this restaurant. I don't understand why the Health Dept didn't shut it down and get to the bottom of it, but one reason is that all those who got sick aren't reporting it. Please call 695-5800 and report it if you or anyone you know has become sick after eating at Harbor Inn.

Harbor Inn's Oyster Bar

January 22, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 910

I don't care what their Dec. 2011 score was, this place obviously has sanitation problems or else they have filthy employees working there. Whatever or whichever, neither I or any of my family members will ever eat there again.

Harbon Inn

January 21, 2012 by Danash (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 909

On Friday the 13th a groop of 5 had supper there. By Sat PM 3 were sick. the only thing we had in common was we had a salad !!! Today at work a friend said her Grandpa was sick to on Sat she called and he also had a salad on Friday Harbon Inn! And we are not in the 18 in the paper!! Guess a sanitation grade don't say much!! We will go back to eat there but later!!

3 People Sick in Newton

January 21, 2012 by sneezinbeauty (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 908

We ate at Harbor Inn on Tuesday and three of the four people in our group all got the "sickness". Never had any bad experiences with the restaurant in the past so we were surprised to hear about this!! Not fun...


January 23, 2012 by robert boggs (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 914

my wife works at harbor inn as a waitress and she also got sick the next day i got sick but i had not eaten at harbor inn so the only conclusion i came to is a 24 hour virus spread by human contact such as money ect do not let an isolated incident ruin the reputation of one of the areas best seafood restaurants think before you listen to gossip and speculation the staff and management have cleaned the restaurant from top to bottom and had three unanounced visits from the health dept so they are doing everything they possibly can to get to the bottom of this please continue to visit and support them while they continue to serve the finest and safest food around thanks.

Harbor Inn Sanitation

January 23, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 916

Mr. Boggs, I'm sure your comments stem from the fact that your wife works there and obviously you want her to keep her job, which she won't have if the Health Dept or the State shuts the place down. I used to agree with you in your thinking that the Harbor Inn was one of the best seafood restaurants around, but it's pretty obvious that they have serious sanitation issues. Anyone who continues to eat there apparently enjoys being let them go back and enjoy having it come out both ends! How will you feel if an elderly person eats there and gets so sick that they die from it? I'm not sure that some elderly people who are in bad health could survive the horrible sickness that some of the people I know have experienced this past week!

reply to cricket

January 23, 2012 by robert boggs (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 924

I should not have replied to this story yet because the investigation is still on going but I will say I will not lie to protect anyones job I STAND BY MY COMMENT AND I WILL NOT COMMENT ANY FURTHER ON THIS SUBJECT!.

reply to Mr. Boggs

January 23, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 929

I hope you're correct about the investigation still being ongoing. It should be since people are still getting sick. There's something about this place that's causing all these people to get sick and I wish the Health Dept would shut them down until they get to the root of it. I feel sorry for the people who are going there to eat and haven't heard about this problem...especially the elderly and the unhealthy people. As far as the people who are aware of the problem, if they choose to go there and eat anyway, then they need their head examined! And as for anyone who may have gotten sick last week and they go back there to eat again, then they are beyond stupid!

Harbor Inn's Oyster Bar

January 22, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 912

I know of at least 25 people who ate there last weekend and got sick and I feel sure there are more. Even though the Health Dept didn't shut them down (which I don't know why not), they obviously have sanitation issues. Their business deserves to suffer from making so many ppl sick!!!!!!!!

Harbor Inn

January 24, 2012 by Concerned (not verified), 3 years 18 weeks ago
Comment: 936

Its funny how your whole family eats there for the past 25 years and now you realize, after this article that they have sanitation issues. Quit jumping on the bangwagon, just to make yourself important.

To: Concerned

January 26, 2012 by cricket (not verified), 3 years 17 weeks ago
Comment: 953

Concerned, I am in no way trying to make myself look important. You have no idea what you're talking about. I'm doing just what you're doing--expressing the way I feel about this situation and expressing my disgust that the Health Dept is allowing the Harbor Inn to remain open, when they have not yet identified the sanitation problem! So you go ahead and eat there and enjoy your contaminated meal if that's what you choose to do and if that's the type of food you enjoy. Matters not to me! However, if I have saved just one elderly person or one person with serious health issues from getting sick by warning them, then my time here was not wasted!

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