Katie Hopkins and her friends were finishing a buffet lunch late last month at the Red Flower Chinese Restaurant in Williamsburg, Ky., over a playful discussion of gossip circulating about the eatery.
“We were actually joking about the, you know, the whole Chinese restaurant. You know some rumors that you hear,” Hopkins told local CBS affiliate WYMT TV.
So imagine their astonishment, Hopkins told the station, when she noticed a foot, tail and a leg sticking out from a garbage can with a box on top of it that two restaurant workers wheeled into the kitchen.
“They were trying to be real quick with it. So that nobody could see it,” said Hopkins, who called health officials about the sighting. “It was very disturbing. There was actually a blood trail that they were mopping up behind the garbage can.”
Lex 18, the area’s NBC affiliate, reported that Paul Lawson, Whitley County’s environmental health inspector, arrived at the Red Flower and found an already-gutted dead deer, which the restaurant owner’s son admitted to picking up on the side of Interstate 75. The owner told the health department he intended to serve the roadkill to his family and not to restaurant patrons, WYMT reported. Following the discovery, the health department immediately closed the restaurant and issued the son a citation for having a white-tailed deer without a tag.
“[The restaurant staff] said they didn’t know they weren’t allowed to [bring in roadkill],” Lawson told WYMT TV. “So that makes me concerned. But maybe they could have before. They didn’t admit to doing it before.”
Roadkill cuisine is nothing new. In 1987, Buck Peterson published The Original Road Kill Cookbook, and other roadkill recipe books have appeared since. The Associated Press also found in an informal survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures that at least 14 states, including Illinois, Vermont and New York, have laws deeming roadkill salvageable. Even PETA supports the consumption of roadkill over supermarket meat. As the organization notes on its website:
“Animals killed on the road were not castrated, dehorned, or debeaked without anesthesia, did not suffer the trauma and misery of transportation in a crowded truck in all weather extremes, and did not hear the screams and smell the fear of the animals ahead of them on the slaughter line.”
Despite this, Lawson told WYMT the incident was the craziest thing he’s ever seen. The Red Flower can reopen after passing a health inspection that proves the building underwent cleaning and sanitization.
Even if the restaurant reopens, Hopkins told WYMT TV she won’t return. “I don’t think I’ll ever eat Chinese food again,” she said.