Fundraising campaign launched for Gastown chowdery after fallout from controversial rat-in-soup video

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      As debate and fallout from an infamous viral video about a Gastown restaurant continues on—with arguments over whether it was a hoax or a health violation—efforts to save the business from financial ruin have arisen.

      Controversy arose when an Instagram video posted on December 27 depicted a customer allegedly discovering a rat in a soup that had been served at Crab Park Chowdery, located at 221 Abbott Street.

      When the incident happened, restaurant staff had apologized, and gave the customers a refund in addition to a $100 gift card.

      View this post on Instagram

      So i am going to talk about this place @crabparkchowdery . Today my friend ordered Manhattan clam chowder and had a little surprise in it - A RAT. Well i don’t know what else to say about it.... this place just need to be closed or at least people have to be aware about this situation. The cafe is kinda popular though... I’m just trying to help people to avoid places like that. Its an awful feeling, it’s not a fly or a bug it’s a fucking big fat rat boiling in the soup pot, which means my friend was not the only who had a chance to try it. Thank you for you attention. #crabparkchowdery I do not force anyone to believe. This is my personal experience that I shared. Thanks for your attention again. My active page is @adelaiiine if you think this one is fake.

      A post shared by (@pisun_ne_ne) on

      Crab Park Chowdery had been making its soups in a commissary kitchen located in the basement of Mamie Taylor's restaurant and commercial kitchen, located at 251 East Georgia Street in Chinatown.

      After investigations, Vancouver Coastal Health inspectors closed Mamie Taylor's on December 28 after inspectors reported unsanitary conditions and a pest infestation.

      After inspections, the restaurant was allowed to reopen on December 29 but the Vancouver Sun reported that the commissary kitchen remained closed pending deficiencies being addressed.

      The American-style comfort-food restaurant, which opened in 2013 and uses an open-plan kitchen on the main floor, announced on December 29 that it would no longer be leasing the commissary kitchen space to other restaurants and ended its business relationship with Crab Park Chowdery.

      Mamie Taylor's
      Mamie Taylor's

      In a routine VCH inspection on July 28, inspectors reported signs of rodent activity and conditions on the premises that could lead to the harbouring or breeding of pests. In a followup inspection on September 12, inspectors reported that the premises were free from pests.

      Crab Park Chowdery was permitted to remain open but was not allowed to use Mamie Taylor's facilities to produce their food.

      After a routine inspection on October 10, inspectors found Crab Park Chowdery premises free from pests but wasn't protected from the entrance of pests. A followup inspection on October 11 didn't state whether the business was in compliance or not regarding the latter.

      The last time inspectors found rodent activity at Crab Park Chowdery was on February 6, which was corrected by the time of a followup inspection on February 23.

      An inspection of the Crab Park food cart on December 31 found it free of pests.

      Crab Park Chowdery
      Crab Park Chowdery

      Contessa Choe, one of the two women involved the video, told the Vancouver Sun on January 2 that the video was not staged.

      The Instagram user who posted the video did not respond to or declined interview inquiries from the Vancouver Sun and CTV News.

      However, Global News reported on January 2 that the user told them that any suggestion that the video was a prank is “ridiculous and disrespectful considering my friends and me are the victims here”.

      The Vancouver Sun reported that Crab Park Chowdery has conducted tests—including using a dead rat—to replicate cooking and serving processes with a rat in it. Owner Ashton Phillips told the Sun that the rat remain buoyant in the vat the soup was cooked in, which is lidded, and that they could not use the eight-ounce ladle or fill the bread bowl (with a diameter of about four inches) without the rat being visible.

      In a social media post, the chowdery stated today (January 9) that it is now in "financial turmoil" due to the negative attention it has received, despite vocal expressions of support.

      "Due to the considerable slow down (from $1500-$2000 a day to now $200-$400 a day) it’s become obvious we need help to keep our dream alive," the restaurant states in the post.

      Global News  reported that business plummeted 75 percent the week after the video was posted online.

      Consequently, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched on GoFundMe by a friend of the restaurant, chef Hunter Moyes.

      On the fundraising webpage, Moyes states that he believes the likelihood of a rat getting into the soup is "extremely low" but "the truth of what happened that day may never be clear for all to see".

      Crab Park Chowdery, which opened in 2017, serves a selection of chowders and soups, sandwiches, and desserts, including New England clam chowder; potato leek soup, topped with bacon, sour cream, tomato, and green onion; and lobster salad sandwiches.