Dorian Greek House is going from the smell of bleach to the smell of food.
The norovirus-hit restaurant got the white-glove go-ahead from Interior Health Wednesday afternoon, two days after it was closed because of two bouts of norovirus that affected customers.
Kevin Touchet, IHA manager of environmental health, said that to be able to reopen, the restaurant had to go through a rigorous cleaning and sanitizing process.
They even had to throw out a lot of food to prevent contamination. Although cooking can kill the virus, the food can be contaminated if it is handled by someone afterward.
The first round of norovirus was traced back to the restaurant after 40 Royal Inland Hospital staff became ill from a Christmas lunch that it catered more than a week ago.
Another round of customers became ill last weekend, which prompted the closure.
Touchet said staff were interviewed to find out who was sick and at what time. Anyone who has norovirus is advised to stay away from work for 48 hours after symptoms stop.
"The key after that is to make sure they're careful with hand washing," he said. And if anyone is ever ill with a gastro-intestinal illness, they should be staying home."
One of the food handlers tested positive for the norovirus.
"We want to make sure precautions are maintained."
Head waiter Larry Mason said within half an hour of being allowed to reopen, the restaurant greeted a table full of customers.
"I am so happy. It's been a long, long week," he said.
"The restaurant has been totally cleaned from top to bottom. There cannot be a germ in here. Cannot be a germ in here. . . . It smelled like bleach but now it smells like food."
Long-time customers have been supportive. A few have called to say they might be sick. Mason advised them to check whether they had the flu or norovirus, as the symptoms — vomiting, diarrhea and nausea — can be similar.
Even though many customers are loyal, the restaurant did take a hit on its bookings for Christmas and New Year's events, he said. Others are coming back.
"We had some cancellations. I called a reservation for tonight for 10 people, they said they'd be here," he said.
"It was awful. The cancellations have been incredible. People have cancelled for New Year's Eve. Their company just doesn't feel comfortable.
"We could have done nothing more to make sure when our customers come back that nothing will happen."
The cleaning measures including throwing out sugar, salt, pepper, colouring books for the kids and even pens.
"Even our reservation book is in quarantine for 10 days. It's in a bag," Mason said.
Two employees are still on a 72-hour precautionary recovery time, but everyone else is deemed healthy.
Touchet said such closures aren't unusual, and a rigorous inspection after such outbreaks often find minor violations.