Chinese restaurant closes after permit expires

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Top’s No. 1, a Chinese restaurant located in a shopping center adjacent to the Walmart on Armory Drive, has been closed following the expiration of its Virginia Department of Health operating permit. According to Dr. Christopher Wilson, director of the VDH’s Western Tidewater Health District, the permit expired when the restaurant changed hands in early February and has been shuttered since March.

Wilson said that when the restaurant changed hands, the VDH informed its prospective and then-current owners that the facility could continue to operate as long as the former owner, Zhou Qi Ni, agreed to continue operation under the current permit, while a new permit application filed under the name of its new owner, Zhen Xing Ou, was being reviewed.

A VDH inspector conducted a courtesy pre-inspection on Feb. 27 and did not specifically cite the facility for any health code violations, but discussed the permitting process with Ou, as well as a few general areas of improvement.

The permitting arrangement changed on March 2 when, during the actual health inspection, the inspector learned that Ni had left the area, and thus could no longer vouch for the operation under the original permit.

At that time, the VDH asked Ou to voluntarily close the restaurant until a new permit under his name could be issued, which he did.

Wilson added that the VDH inspector had returned on several subsequent visits to attempt to meet with Ou, but found the facility closed and was unable to contact him by phone, email or certified mail each time. While performing inspections at other area establishments, the inspector learned from owners and employees at nearby restaurants that Ou had also left town, and that he may have left all the food inside the restaurant.

On March 30, the inspector was able to contact the property manager of the building and ask that any remaining food inside the restaurant be removed so that it would not create a spoilage or pest problem.

Since the VDH has still yet to hear from Ou regarding the new permit application, the department is now regarding the application as withdrawn and the restaurant’s file has been closed in its database.

Ou said he was not sure if he was going to try to reopen the restaurant and declined to comment on the possibility of food being left inside.