ACT News

New cafe owners struggling to recover from stigma of court case

New management at the Spicy Ginger Café are struggling to recover after the previous owners were fined $15,000 for unhygienic practices.

The court case against the venue, which finished on Tuesday, arose from an ACT Health inspection in 2011.

Now it's impacting the new owner, who said he spent at least $15,000 fixing up the kitchen after buying the business mid-2013. 

The restaurant has lost more than 100 customers in bookings alone in the last few days, said owner Richard Hou.

"I even got a call from the previous owner to say 'sorry this is affecting your business'," he said.

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"If that sorry was 100 customers, I would be quicker to accept it."

After replacing all the staff and half the kitchen, Mr Hou said he is still struggling with the stigma of the unsafe old restaurant.

He said he was never told that the business was involved in a court case.

"I felt shocked ... I mean I spent a lot to fix it up, but I never knew," Mr Hou said. 

"I had to replace so much - some of the equipment was quite old, things needed cleaning."

He said he's trying to put a positive spin on the stories, and that at least from a marketing standpoint, it's a cheap way to spread awareness.

He said at least people will know the café is now one of the most hygienic places to eat in Canberra.

Currently, Mr Hou is pushing to get the ACT's Health Protection Service to inspect his business before Christmas.

"I want people to know the café is safe," Mr Hou said.

He said news couldn't have come at a worse time, as he has plans to open a noodle bar in Canberra, Spicy Ginger Noodle Shop.

"I might lose both businesses, it's terrible timing."

It was his dream to own his own business since coming to Australia nine years ago.

Mr Hou said he worked his way from the bottom, washing dishes, doing kitchen hand jobs, and eventually working at the Canberra Hospital.

"My dream is to get Chinese people back to the restaurant."

"I'm bringing authentic Xinjiang food… [and] big servings, with meat, vegetables and handmade noodles."

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