The Republican-American reports that guests who attended a Friday evening wedding reception at the Grand Oak Villa banquet facility say far more patrons came down with illnesses, some serious, than facility operators have reported.
Doreen Gagnon, whose son Brian Gagnon’s reception took place at the 550 Sylvan Lake Road hall, said she has tracked 85 of the 190 guests as “coming down with something” a day or so after the event, with perhaps as many as 40 going to a hospital.
“It was a good show and they (Grand Oak) put on a good party,” the mother said, adding there were no complaints about the food or service. “But it was something more than just ‘a bug.’ ”
Catering manager Libero DiStasi confirmed Wednesday that state health officials were investigating complaints of people becoming ill after the reception, but he said it was only a few and attributed the probable cause to the flu.
A message left Thursday seeking comment from Michael DiStasi, Grand Oak’s permittee, was not immediately returned.
Doreen Gagnon said she started getting reports guests were becoming ill about 24 to 36 hours after the reception, some experiencing nausea and vomiting. “Luckily my son and his wife (Stephanie Fayer) are OK,” she said. “They called from Hawaii where they are honeymooning.”
Cathy Allen, a guest at the Fayer-Gagnon fete, said she knew of at least three people who went to Waterbury Hospital and had to be hooked up to intravenous units.
Doreen Gagnon said she believes the state Department of Public Health has been trying to contact people who may have become ill, but is not releasing any details of its inquiry and findings. She said she was told after the investigation is concluded, results would be posted on the department’s Web site.
Gil Roberts, director of environmental health for the Torrington Area Health District, which is in charge of inspecting facilities, said the district could not confirm or deny an investigation was under way. However, he said, Grand Oak had not been closed down.
Lynn Townshend, a department spokeswoman, said she could neither confirm nor deny the department was investigating complaints related to Grand Oak. Generally, when food-serving facilities are investigated, interviews with employees are conducted and food-serving practices checked, she said.
The banquet facility is on the grounds of the Cercemaggiore Community Club. The hall that was granted a special permit to operate in 1990 is among the few in the region that can accommodate up to 500 guests comfortably, and its main room can be divided in two.