Sawa still struggling after food delivery snafu

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Business is slowly picking up at area Asian restaurants trying to bounce back after news broke in May that a delivery company was using a truck with a broken refrigeration system.

“It’s still not as busy as it should be. We have specials now, so we’re trying to get back on track,” said Tyler Pagley, a waiter at Sawa Japanese Cuisine in Boardman.

Pagley said they stopped using New Sheng Hung as soon as they found out about the problems with the Cleveland distributor’s trucks, but their business still is down by about 50 percent. He said Sawa is creating specials, like sushi on Tuesdays, to attract more customers.

“It did hurt us, but we have to worry about getting business back on track,” Pagley said. “We don’t order from them. None of the food we have is from the spoiled trucks. Everything is new, it is all good food for the customers.”

Of the seven restaurants who used that company at the time in the Youngstown area, one has closed its doors. It is unknown why the Golden Bowl in Struthers is not open, but a sign outside the building on Youngstown-Poland Road reads “For Rent.”

After speaking with most of the other restaurants, they said there are not as many customers coming through their doors.

Meanwhile, that Cleveland food distributor, New Sheng Hung, has been cleared to transport food again following the May incident in which a truck with spoiled food was pulled over in Pennsylvania.

Ashley McDonald with the Ohio Department of Agriculture said New Sheng Hung is in compliance as far as food safety goes. McDonald said two of their own trucks and three rentals are approved for transporting refrigerated food.

Five other vehicles are cleared to carry dry foods only and another truck is being serviced. The company is also on an accelerated inspection schedule, meaning the Department of Agriculture will inspect the warehouse every six months.

“We can also pop in if we get any word, if we get a tip, that they are not doing anything properly. If we happen to see anything that would be an indication that they are not following the guidelines that we have given them, we can show up and do an inspection at that time,” McDonald said.

McDonald said New Sheng Hung is working on getting the rest of its vehicles up and running.

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