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Despite Hepatitis A Scare, Alta Restaurant Patrons Stay Loyal

By Andrea Swalec | April 10, 2013 9:23am

GREENWICH VILLAGE — As management of Alta Restaurant in the Village assured patrons the eatery was safe after a staffer was recently diagnosed with hepatitis A, some New Yorkers said they were willing to give the Mediterranean bistro another chance.

The city Health Department warned Friday night that anyone who ate dessert at Alta between March 23 and April 2 may have come in contact with the hepatitis A virus because a part-time member of the kitchen staff had been diagnosed with the disease after a trip to Mexico.

No additional cases of hepatitis A have been reported in connection to exposure at Alta, according to the Health Department.

While staff of the top-rated restaurant at 64 W. 10th St. prepared for the dinner crowd Tuesday night, some customers said they would return to the restaurant.

West Village resident and Alta regular Rafi Av, 50, said he planned to go back to Alta, which he called "awesome and authentic."

"I know the reputation of the restaurant and they fixed the problem right away," he said, pointing out that the Health Department never closed Alta.

But not everyone was ready to dig in.

Artist and designer Jen Larkin, a Williamsburg resident, sympathized with Alta's staff but said the scare left a bad taste in her mouth.

"It's sad that it's going to hurt their business, but I wouldn't eat there," said Larkin, 40.

West 10th Street resident Ann Silverman, a 75-year-old retired from a career in advertising, agreed.

"I wouldn't eat there," she said. "I wouldn't risk it."

Nearly 240 people, including 31 Alta employees, received the vaccine at a city health clinic over the weekend, a Health Department official said Monday.

The restaurant said in a statement released Monday night that it immediately responded to the risk of an outbreak.

"It is completely safe to eat at Alta," the statement said. "Beyond the individual infection, the DOH has not determined any evidence of any contamination whatsoever."

Patrons of the restaurant with health questions can contact the Health Department via a direct line at (347) 396-2600.