WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- After claims of listeria and more than 40 years in business, a Mamaroneck fish house said they have closed for good following a civil suit filed Tuesday by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office.
"I'm just heartbroken that I had to close The Smokehouse after false claims by the government," said Brett Portier, the shop's operations director, whose family started the business in the 70s.
Tucked away at 434 Waverly Ave., the businesses' smoke fish was once recommended by Oprah on her "Favorite Things" list.
Portier said the suit, that claims the business has failed to comply with federal health standards and tested positive for listeria monocytogenes on the floors and rails, demands so much, that the small business can't afford to make the changes.
"No one has ever gotten sick off our products and we just can't afford the crazy amount of items that are listed to be repaired or replaced," he said.
The lawsuit does not claim the shop sold any fish tainted with listeria or that anyone became sick.
He also points out that restaurants and grocery stores don't have to adhere to the same standards as manufacturers do.
"We have fresh fish coming in here all day and being processed," Portier said. "Of course we are going to have listeria on the floors. But they are cleaned at the end of every workday and there has never, ever been a problem."
The issue started when inspectors came during production time, he added.
"If they would let us clean the floor or rails while they are there, they would see there is no listeria," he said. "Again, I say, no listeria has been found in any finished product during inspections."
He said the family is currently selling off its inventory and he and his wife and two children plan to move in with his parents who started the business because they can't afford their home anymore.
"It's just sickening what the government can do to a small business who can't fight back," he said. "I'm not sure where we go from here or what my family will do, but I'll say again, you can't fight big government who won't listen."
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