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County Shuts Down Downtown Food Cart Small Pharaoh After Shigellosis Outbreak

The county confirmed four people have been diagnosed with shigellosis after dining at the cart

A sign that says “Sorry we’re closed”
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Portland food cart Small Pharaoh is now closed due to a spreading illness, but it’s not COVID-19: Multnomah County health officials have shut down the downtown gyro cart due to an outbreak of shigellosis. “This is the first food cart closure in Multnomah County in many years due to health concerns,” a press release from the county reads.

Shigellosis, for those who don’t know, is a contagious illness caused by bacteria known as shigella, which cause severe gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea and fever. Four people from separate households were confirmed as having shigellosis after dining at the cart, and three more people are presumptive cases. County health officials are asking Portlanders with symptoms of shigellosis who ate at the downtown location of Small Pharaoh between July 27 and August 11 to visit a health care professional.

This isn’t the first time Small Pharaoh has been in hot water. In 2018, owner Islam El Masry was arrested for misdemeanor harassment and assault after he threw a Gatorade bottle at a Black customer and called her a racial slur. El Masry admitted to calling her a racial slur in a YouTube video he posted, which has since been removed. Then, earlier this year, El Masry was once again publicly accused of calling a Black customer a racial slur. Again, El Masry admitted to using the slurs, but said he filed a police report against her for throwing a Gatorade bottle at him. El Masry could not be reached for comment.

To report possible illness associated with this outbreak, call 503-988-3406.

Multnomah County closes food cart amid shigellosis outbreak [Official]
Food Cart Owner Admits to Calling Customer Racial Slur, Spraying Her With Sriracha [EPDX]
Portland food cart owner involved in 2018 bias incident faces new racism allegations [O]