‘Never had a problem’ Colorado restaurant opens after Salmonella infection

A Basalt restaurant has reopened after voluntarily closing and working with environmental health officials when six people were infected with Salmonella after dining there, according to the Eagle County Public Health and Environment Department.

El Korita at Willits Town CenterEl Korita at Willits Town Center closed for five days on Jan. 21, according to Public Health Director Jennifer Ludwig. She said the restaurant owner and staff were extremely cooperative and sought the department’s guidance.

“They thoroughly disinfected the kitchen and all food contact surfaces and equipment; all employees attended food handler safety training, a few employees additionally completed an online course; and all employees were interviewed and tested by public health and environment team,” Ludwig said in an email. “They reopened on Tuesday, January 26.”

El Korita owner Beto Gamboa expressed frustration because he wants to know the cause of the Salmonella. He said he has been in business for 20 years and practiced safe preparation and handling of food. There has never been a previous problem, he said.

The closure cost him about $50,000, Gamboa said. He is waiting word on the problem. Ludwig said the investigation might never determine how the illness was caused.

The restaurant wasn’t forced to close by Eagle County or the Colorado Public Health Department, Ludwig said, and no clearance was needed to reopen.