A dozen patrons were treated at the hospital for a foodborne...

A dozen patrons were treated at the hospital for a foodborne illness after dining at Kumo Sushi & Steakhouse in Stony Brook, Suffolk County officials said. Credit: Morgan Campbell

This story was reported and written by Robert Brodsky, Grant Parpan and Tara Smith.

At least 28 people dining at a Stony Brook restaurant were sickened by a foodborne illness, including a dozen customers who were transported to a hospital, Suffolk County officials said.

The Suffolk Department of Health Services believed the likely culprit at Kumo Sushi & Steakhouse was "mishandled and improperly stored cooked rice that was served" Saturday afternoon, said Suffolk County spokesperson Marykate Guilfoyle. The health department issued 15 violations to the restaurant on Nesconset Highway, including eight for foodborne illness risk factors, Guilfoyle said.

"Twelve people were taken to Stony Brook [University] Hospital," Guilfoyle said. "They were all released from the emergency room rather quickly. None needed to stay overnight."

Another 16 reported being sick after leaving the restaurant, she said. The health department previously cited the restaurant in 2020 and 2021, Guilfoyle said. She did not detail specific violations.

The restaurant was open for business Sunday, where a handful of patrons dined in the afternoon. Restaurant staff declined to comment. A man, who identified himself as a friend of the owner, later greeted a Newsday reporter at the door to say management would not be answering any questions.

Jacqueline Krauss of South Setauket was with a dozen other friends and family members at Kumo Saturday afternoon for her granddaughter's sixth birthday. She said her daughter, Jessica, and two others were treated at a hospital after they began projectile vomiting, while four others in her party felt mildly ill. The two young children at the party did not become ill.

Several Kumo patrons, including a couple sickened after eating at the restaurant three days earlier, told Newsday they believed it was fried rice that sickened them.

Dawn Catapano of Farmingdale was one of about 25 people at the restaurant Saturday for a friend's baby shower.

She felt sick shortly after leaving the party at around 3:30 p.m. and spent the next 12 hours with uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea.

"I just felt terrible the rest of the night," Catapano said, adding that most of the baby shower guests were ill as well.

"I woke up at midnight and then again at two o'clock in the morning and got sick," she said.

Gabrielle Minervini Rondi and her husband, Bryan Rondi, of Holbrook, joined four others at Kumo on Wednesday night. The Rondis and one other in their party ate the fried rice and got violently ill; the three others did not have rice and were fine.

The couple, who experienced symptoms for the next 24 hours, and went to an emergency clinic Friday to get IV fluids, said they warned the restaurant about the rice.

"But nothing happened," Gabrielle Minervini Rondi said. "I tried to warn them and I wish they did something about it."

Suffolk police and 13 area fire departments responded to the restaurant at 4:07 p.m. Saturday after receiving “multiple” 911 calls, said Joe Agovino, a spokesperson for Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services. Emergency crews cleared the area shortly after 6 p.m., he said.

Guilfoyle said the incident involved two large groups dining at the restaurant. The first group, a party of 25, shared a meal from 1 to 3 p.m., with 16 members later reporting vomiting after leaving the restaurant. No one from that group was hospitalized.

The ambulances were called after members of the second party got sick inside the restaurant and its parking lot about an hour later, Guilfoyle said.

The cooked rice that investigators believed caused the illness was discarded in the presence of health inspectors, Guilfoyle said.

"All of the corrective actions were taken and the restaurant is open," she added.

Stony Brook University Hospital officials said the patients were treated and released.

Some of the citations were issued for minor violations such as gloves not being stored in the proper places or for not having paper towels and soap at sink areas, Guilfoyle said.

The Suffolk County Health Department Food Protection Program performs routine inspections to "establish safeguards for the control of food and preventing consumption of unwholesome, adulterated or otherwise unfit food," according to the department website. Full-service restaurants are typically visited at least once per year.

Each year, Suffolk's Food Protection Program issues about 7,000 food service establishment permits, conducts more than 6,000 inspections and investigates approximately 600 consumer complaints, the department states.

Krauss said she's still not back to normal after receiving IV fluids in the ambulance and taking anti-nausea drugs.

"I have body pain from the whole experience," she said. "My throat is on fire. A lot of acid. It was a nightmare."

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