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Corky & Lenny's deli reopens after outbreak

Corky & Lenny's, a delicatessen that's as much a part of the eastern suburbs as pastrami is to a deli, will end a weeklong hiatus spurred by a salmonella outbreak that hospitalized 21 and sickened dozens more.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health on Thursday gave the restaurant permission to reopen. Owner Kenny Kurland said he plans to have the Woodmere restaurant up and running at 7 a.m. Saturday morning.

"It will be business as usual," Kurland said

Corky & Lenny's temporarily closed last Friday as salmonella cases linked to the restaurant mounted.

As of Wednesday, county health officials reported 20 confirmed cases, 61 probable cases and one suspected case between Jan. 29 and Feb. 13.

To reopen, the restaurant followed health department procedures to clean and sanitize its kitchen with a chlorine bleach solution, according to Chris Keppes, director of epidemiology and surveillance at the department.

Health officials also ordered Kurland to dispose of all raw food, such as eggs, milk, poultry and meat products. The staff was tested and trained in safe food preparation and handling techniques. Health officials will monitor the restaurant's operations for two weeks.

Salmonella is a bacteria spread through feces-contaminated food. Raw foods are frequently tainted, but thorough cooking kills the bacteria. Infected food handlers who don't wash their hands with soap after using the bathroom also can spread it.

Infections typically cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps soon after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most recover without treatment.

Keppes said the specific cause of the outbreak will remain unknown for a couple weeks, when results of lab tests are expected.

A Bay Village couple who said they visited the restaurant Feb. 2 didn't wait for the details before filing a lawsuit Wednesday.

The suit, which seeks class-action status, claims Jeanne Silver fell ill after eating a corned beef-and-chopped liver sandwich from the restaurant and grew so ill she later spent three days at Fairview Hospital, where she tested positive for salmonella.

Kurland said he was disappointed by the lawsuit and would have preferred to work it out.

He said he's willing to do whatever it takes to re-establish the public's trust. Already, he's given refunds to customers who have asked for their money back.

"We've been in business for over 50 years and have never had something like this happen before," said Kurland, son of the restaurant's founder, Sanford "Corky" Kurland. "We deeply apologize for the inconvenience this has caused."

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