soul foodA popular city restaurant that catered a United Illuminated event at which at least 19 people got sick is off the hook as a source of the pesky pathogen, city health experts said Wednesday.

"None of the lab results indicate that the food served at the event was the source," said Bill Quinn, the city health director. The revelation was a relief to Sandra’s Place owner Miguel Pittman, who said business at his restaurant had declined by 60 percent after the story about the sick diners broke.

"I’m just glad this is behind us and we can move ahead," Pittman said Wednesday. "I’m glad they realized we’re OK."

However, what caused at least 15 people to be hospitalized Aug. 30 with nausea, cramps and vomiting remains a mystery, Quinn said.

"We don’t know what it is and we won’t know," Quinn said. "We can’t implicate anything." Sandra’s Place, a locally owned soul food restaurant with locations on Congress and Whitney avenues, catered the UI event at the Connecticut Financial Center on Church Street.

Fifteen people attending the 60-person affair were taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital where they were treated and released. Four others fell ill but declined to go to the hospital, emergency service officials said.