After rat-in-soup video controversy, Gastown's Crab Park Chowdery is calling it quits

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      Was it a prank? Or a legitimate video?

      Satisfactory proof of the true answer to those questions may continue to evade onlookers of a controversial video that depicted a dead rat being pulled out of a soup served at a Gastown eatery during the holiday season.

      However, one thing is now certain: the food establishment in question will be no more.

      On January 16, Crab Park Chowdery, which opened in 2017 at 221 Abbott Street, announced on social media that it will be shutting down its business on Sunday (January 20).

      Their message about their closure cited some of their positive memories, including making friends and helping out at community events in the Downtown Eastside.

      Although the message didn’t make any direct references to the infamous video or their financial position, but hinted at more to come.

      “Life is a funny journey, it has all sorts of ups and downs,” the message states. “We know that with our heads held high and a can do attitude the next chapter will be an even better one. We will see you all real soon.”

      The video of a customer pulling a dead rat out of a soup at the restaurant had been posted on Instagram on December 27.

      Vancouver Coastal Health conducted investigations at both Crab Park Chowdery and Mamie Taylor’s, where Crab Park Chowdery made its soups in a commissary kitchen in the basement.

      After Vancouver Coastal Health found evidence of unsanitary conditions and a pest infestation at Mamie Taylor’s, that establishment was shut down while Crab Park Chowdery was allowed to remain open.

      After followup inspections, Mamie Taylor’s restaurant was allowed to reopen on December 29 (the restaurant used an open-plan kitchen on the main floor), but the commissary kitchen remained closed.

      Consequently, the two restaurants ended their business relationship.

      Although after the incident, the restaurant apologized to the customers, gave them a refund, and also gave them a $100 gift certificate, owner Ashton Phillips questioned whether the video was real or not in several interviews after he said he tried to recreate the cooking process with a dead rat in it.

      From the rat remaining floating in the cooking vat to size of the ladle and the circumference of the bowl, he argued that it was impossible to avoid seeing the rat and could not understand how it could have gotten into the soup without being noticed by staff.

      "Comment on recent alleged incident with rodent: Investigation concludes this incident did not happen," the restaurant stated in a social media post on January 1. "We’ve conducted a full investigation into the recently reported incident of a rodent allegedly making its way into our prepared food and have unequivocally concluded there is no way this incident could have happened in our kitchen or as a result of any actions by our staff prior to being prepared and served."

      Although the two women involved in the video declined or did not respond to some media interview requests, some news outlets reported them as having stated that the video was neither staged nor faked.

      A crowdfunding campaign had been launched on January 4 by chef Hunter Moyes, who is a friend of the restaurant. As of today, it has raised $2,365 from 35 people.

      However, on January 9, Crab Park Chowdery stated on social media that it was in “financial turmoil” in the wake of the negative fallout from the video and business was reported to have dropped by about 75 percent amid a time period that can be slow for restaurants due to factors such post-holiday budgets and New Year's resolutions. 

      The restaurant’s concise menu offered a selection of chowders and soup, as well as sandwiches.

      Crab Park Chowdery
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.