‘Infamous’ Ocala eatery caught up in hepatitis A scare is on the market

An Ocala restaurant with a checkered past and a connection to a food service worker who recently tested positive for hepatitis A is for sale.

The Charlie Horse Restaurant and Lounge, located at 2426 E Silver Springs Blvd., is on the market for $799,000, according to a listing on Transworld Business Advisors. The restaurant, owned by Guy Iannone, was in the news earlier this month when the Florida Department of Health in Marion County announced that an employee may have been infectious with hepatitis A from July 18 to Aug. 1 and a vaccination was recommended for anyone who ate or drank there between July 24 and Aug. 1.

The Charlie Horse Restaurant and Lounge, located at 2426 E Silver Springs Blvd., is for sale for $799,000. The restaurant was in the news after an employee tested positive for hepatitis A earlier this month and the eatery was temporarily closed in March by a health inspector.

The restaurant also was shut down for a little more than three days in March after a health inspector found 11 violations – and 30 live roaches – in the eatery, according to report on file with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations states. That closure was not related to the food service worker who was discovered to be suffering from hepatitis A.

Guy Iannone

Overall, the restaurant has been inspected 12 times this year since March 5 and violations have been found in all but one of those instances. And in seven inspections, high-priority violations were cited.

The Transworld Business Advisor listing doesn’t identify the Charlie Horse by name but the agent, Dawn-Marie Crown, confirmed on Friday morning that it was the embattled eatery. The listing refers to the restaurant as “infamous” and labels it as a “huge opportunity” to purchase real estate or a business that potentially could be shutting down.

On Friday, Crown said the Charlie Horse is still open for business but “sales have dropped dramatically” since media coverage of the food service worker suffering from hepatitis A first broke on Aug. 6. The restaurant also confirmed it was still open for business on Thursday afternoon with a Facebook post that read: “Enough of the drama we are not closing Friday!”

This Thursday afternoon Facebook post from the Charlie Horse Restaurant and Lounge attempted to quell fears of an impending closure.

Crown said that Iannone made the decision several months ago to sell the restaurant because of failing health and a desire to “slow down.” She said he had expressed to her that he was “quite tired” and she could tell he was eager for a change.
Crown added that when the “media frenzy” hit over the hepatitis-infected employee earlier this month, they were negotiating on an offer of $1.1 million for the eatery.

“As expected, the buyer pulled the offer and Guy has had no choice but to significantly reduce his price,” she said, adding that the asking price of $799,000 is the value of the real estate.

A health inspector cited 11 violations – including seeing more than 30 lives roaches – in March when shutting down the Charlie Horse restaurant, located at 2426 E Silver Springs Blvd.

“I am heart-broken about this entire situation,” Crown added. “I’d like to thank the people who are expressing empathy for him in this horrible situation. It is the kindness and caring of others who will help him and the staff of Charlie Horse make it through.”

The Charlie Horse listing states that Iannone’s discretionary earnings are $171,174, with total sales of a little more than $1.45 million. It says that an inventory of $10,000 and furniture, fixtures and equipment valued at $75,000 are included.

The listing also states that the restaurant, which originally was established in 1983, has 23 employees and it is for sale because Iannone is retiring.