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Tennessee restaurant owners caught washing kitchen supplies in lake: ‘This isn’t the first time’

You’ve got to see it to believe it.

The owners of a Chinese restaurant in Old Hickory, Tenn., have been gone viral on social media after employees were caught on camera washing kitchen supplies used at the establishment in a local lake. Though the owners’ daughter insisted that there was more to the story, Metro Health Department intervened and temporarily shuttered the eatery for an investigation.

While the establishment passed the inspection, and is back open for business, customers’ opinions are mixed as to whether or not they’ll dine there again.

On Aug. 27, Facebook user Lance Glover shared a series of photos and videos to the platform featuring the female owner of No.1 Chinese Restaurant and a male employee washing kitchen supplies in a lake, Fox 17 Nashville reports.


According to the outlet, Glover was at Old Hickory Lake with his girlfriend on Tuesday morning when he spotted the pair cleaning the cookware. Horrified, he began recording on his cell phone, and later captured the pair carrying the supplies back into the No.1 restaurant.

“I followed them back to restaurant and hid and got them on camera before they caught me recording and stopped bringing stuff back into the restaurant but this is just UNSANITARY BY ALL MEANS,” Glover wrote on Facebook.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened, they do it every week!” he continued to claim.

In the hours since his post has gone far and wide, with one video racking up over 28,000 views to date.

However,  Michelle Pan, the daughter of the restaurant’s owners, insisted that there is more to the story.

“I think this is the first time they’ve took the drainage and the rack to the lake to wash. Before, they only used the rags,” Pan told Fox 17, detailing that the rags were only used at their home.

She continued to explain that “no pots, pans, utensils, [or] plates” were washed in Old Hickory Lake by her mother and the staffer, and that the equipment drain and grilling rack never touched food.

“None of the customers we’ve had have ever complained about getting sick from our food,” Pan said. “We keep our health inspection scores high and we know what we’re doing in the kitchen.”

Nevertheless, officials with the local health department were forced to get involved when they learned of the claims, WTVF reports.


According to the outlet, an inspector arrived at No. 1 Chinese Restaurant later on Tuesday morning and closed the establishment due to the potential health hazard.

While gathering facts about the allegations, the owners reportedly told the inspector that they occasionally washed things in the lake for “cultural reasons,” as per Fox 17.

“Their explanation was it was a drain that collected a lot of grease, and they wanted to wash it somewhere where that grease wasn’t going down their drain,” Hugh Atkins, director of Bureau of Environmental Health Services at the Metro Health Department, told WTVF.  “It’s disturbing to see something like that.”

An external image of No. 1 Chinese Restaurant in Old Hickory, Tenn. (Google Maps)

Instructed to wash and disinfect all equipment and food preparation services under the supervision of an official, the shop reopened around 6:30 p.m. the same day, according to the outlet.

By then, furious customers had filled the parking lot after watching the video on social media, as per Fox 17.


“Their food is good but now, it’s no way in heaven’s earth that I would go down there,” said customer Nancy Johnson, who has vowed to never dine there again.

Others, meanwhile, were still in shock.

“I’ve never gotten sick from the food here,” Heather Williams, a customer of the No. 1 establishment for three years, told WTVF. “It’s clean. I’ve never had any problems.”

Reps for the Tennessee Department of Health did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment for additional information.


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