Bullock's packs em in

May 7, 2010 10:35:16 AM PDT
Durham landmark Bullock's BBQ was packed Friday afternoon as a massive lunch crowd filled the restaurant.

It's the first step for the popular eatery as it bounces back from a recent health scare.

About 15 people reported stomach illness after eating in the restaurant and at an event it catered in April.

Bullock's said it served at least 5,000 customers during the same period and was cooperating with health officials trying to determine what happened.

"We wanted to get to the bottom of it," said owner Tommy Bullock.

State health officials said Friday that they have confirmed nine cases of salmonella poisoning, but has yet to figure out where it came from.

In a news release, it said "No violations in the restaurant have been identified with respect to their food handling practices, facilities or employees."

News of the illness hammered the restaurant's business. The eatery that's played hosts to notables like Connie Chung and Vice President Joe Biden saw an 80 percent drop off in customers and catering orders fell to almost nothing.

Friday, Durham chefs and the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau came to the rescue. Chefs from other restaurants around the city donned their dress whites and came for lunch to show it's safe to eat. Cross town competitor the Q Shack even closed its doors for lunch to make sure everyone who wanted BBQ went to Bullock's.

Owner Tommy Bullock says his team is cooking up good eats.

"Bullock's is cookin like it always does - serving good home cooked vegetables and ribs and chicken and BBQ," he said.

Gaining the appreciation of his customers has been what Bullock has built his business of 48 years on, and he's hoping that's what will bring people back.

"We couldn't be more appreciative of their support," he said.

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