Farmer Joe’s committed to customers

Published 10:04 pm Saturday, May 17, 2014

To the editor:

Farmer Joe’s in Suffolk has not shut down!

The article on the front page May 11 (“Farmer Joe’s scrutinized”) came after two complaints from people who aren’t even our regular customers. If Hoon Kim (my father) had understood the intent of the article, he would have responded more appropriately to the reporter who questioned him and taken it more seriously.

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Mr. Kim believes one of the customers was dissatisfied that she couldn’t purchase fried crab with an EBT card, which would have been illegal. The other complaint referred to itchy throats and breaking out in rash/hives from consuming our crab at an 11-year-old’s birthday party.

They claimed that, for the entire birthday party, no other food was consumed, but that is hard to believe in itself. Furthermore, the symptoms seem suspiciously like an allergic reaction, in my opinion. I believe a doctors’ consultation would have revealed the true culprit for their sickness, but unfortunately, a doctor’s visit was not considered.

What the article didn’t tell you is that the customer came back to purchase more crab after numerous requests by phone to change our batter, and even came to the store in person to ask to change the crab batter. Now, if you had food poisoning, would you come back to buy more food from the same place? I wouldn’t.

Farmer Joe’s was closed May 3 and 4 due to the owners’ son getting married out-of-state — not because the health department shut them down.

Crab is a delicacy that must be handled thoroughly and delicately. So the crabs start a rigorous cleaning process, beginning with a thorough inspection (throwing out any dead crabs); then move on to cleaning and de-sanding; next steaming and double-checking for leftover sand; and finally being deep-fried. The frying oil is changed daily to keep the taste fresh, and fresh ingredients that are used daily.

Farmer Joe’s serves thousands of crabs to hundreds of customers, day in and day out. Those who have been there know how much foot traffic exists in and out of that store. If food poisoning had taken place, wouldn’t you think that in more than four years, there would be more than two complaints?

Mr. Kim has owned numerous seafood carry-outs throughout the Hampton Roads since 1987. He wouldn’t have lasted this long if he didn’t know how to prepare the food properly, especially serving his adoring customers.

Please don’t let a front-page article and the opinion of two non-regular customers affect your opinion of Farmer Joe’s. We fully concede we have made mistakes, but are fully prepared to earn back your trust. We are committed to improving our attitudes toward our customers, because we have and always will value our customers. Please continue to support Farmer Joe’s.

Mina Bang

Richmond