Las Vegas Sun

November 29, 2015

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Firefly set to reopen on Paradise after salmonella outbreak


Sam Morris

Firefly Tapas Kitchen & Bar on Paradise Road sits closed Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

A new Firefly Tapas Kitchen & Bar is opening on Paradise Road today.

John Simmons, the restaurant’s embattled owner, plans to open the doors at 4 p.m. at the new restaurant at 3824 Paradise Road.

The opening follows a major salmonella outbreak last month that sickened 294 people from 27 states and two foreign countries who ate at the Firefly’s old Paradise Road location a few doors down.

“I think we were a little apprehensive about opening,” said Tabitha Simmons, John Simmons’ wife and business partner. “We really want to put our best foot forward, and we want to gain people’s trust back. We’re not taking this lightly.”

John Simmons recently said he had no plans to reopen the original Firefly location on Paradise because he would be moving ahead with plans that were already in place to open the new restaurant by the end of the month. He signed a lease for the new space in August.

He said inspectors from the Southern Nevada Health District approved the restaurant to open May 21. Inspectors were not immediately available for comment Friday.

Cooked chorizo collected from the previous Firefly restaurant on Paradise Road tested positive for salmonella, according to Linh Nguyen, an epidemiologist with the Health District.

Though the chorizo arrived at the restaurant raw, it was subsequently cooked by Firefly’s restaurant staff. Nguyen said the genetic fingerprint of the salmonella found in the chorizo has not been found anywhere else in the country, suggesting it was contaminated at the restaurant.

Simmons said chorizo will remain on the menu at the new restaurant.

“We still offer it,” Tabitha Simmons said. “All of the additional precautions we’ve put in place allows us to offer it.”

Those precautions include the following, according to Latoya Bembry, a spokeswoman from The Ferraro Group, the company representing Firefly:

• Hired a food safety expert with over 25 years experience.

• Certified managers and chefs to safely handle food.

• Conducted food safety training for all employees, with the goal of constant improvement and continual training

• In the process of having a food safety “professor” on site.

• Instituted an HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) program to better monitor the safety of food at every point at which bacterial contamination can occur.

• Conducting rigorous checks of suppliers to ensure that they provide the freshest product available.

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