MARGATE, Fla. – "It is a very sad day," Donna Wolff said as she loaded groceries into the trunk of her car.
Wolff on Wednesday drove from Deerfield Beach to the Penn Dutch Food Center in Margate one last time.
"I'm on disability and a very fixed income and budget. This is my go-to place," she said.
On Wednesday morning, hundreds and hundreds of customers grabbed anything they could as Penn Dutch in Margate opened for a going-out-of-business sale.
The store is located at 3201 North State Road 7.
"I'm gonna miss their whitefish salad," Lisa Figuerido said.
On Tuesday night, loyal Penn Dutch Food Center customers received an email from the company saying they were closing the Hollywood and Margate locations permanently.
The Hollywood location, off Interstate 95, south of Stirling Road, opened in 1975.
The Margate Food Center opened in 2004.
"Over 30 years I have been going to Penn Dutch -- since I was a little girl. I go to the Hollywood (store), but we came all the way here one last time," Rachel Lazureani said.
As Local 10 News first reported, positive listeria samples were recently found at both locations for the second time this year.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the bacteria was found in chicken salad in February and ham samples last month from the Hollywood location.
Environmental samples like trays, drains, the wheel of a dolly and a dust pan tested positive for the bacteria in Margate.
The state issued a "stop use" order on several food processing areas at both locations.
The Hollywood store has been closed since last month.
"It is a scary thing. So maybe it is for the best, but they will be missed," Margate shopper Sandi Siegto said.
Up to 300 employees will lose their jobs.
"They told me, 'We are cutting people's hours,' and (they) let me go last week," Tammy Johnson said.
"I have been shopping here every Sunday since 2004," customer Arlene Schwartz said.
Schwartz is a Margate City Commissioner who was at the Margate Food Center for the ribbon cutting in 2004.
"It is unfortunate for the city, for their family. On the other hand, I appreciate the state came in and found it," Schwartz said.
Listeria sickens 1,600 Americans each year, killing about 260 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Usually, it brings fever and diarrhea, but it can be fatal, especially to senior citizens and children under the age of 5. It can also cause stillbirths and miscarriages in pregnant women.
On Wednesday, someone from the company posted the following message on social media:
"The inspectors made it impossible for us to run our business. According to the State's own swab protocols, they weren't supposed to swab rooms that were in active production (which they did) and also they were not supposed to swab any raw product (which they did). Listeria is present on raw proteins and is killed by cooking. They got a positive on a Raw tuna tray and a raw Seabass tray. They also swabbed the fish cutting board that was in use filleting whole Yellowtail Snapper and Salmon. They sent 7 Deli samples to be tested about six weeks ago and ALL 7 came back NEGATIVE!
Also, Management was very proactive as they deep cleaned and Sanitized every area of concern. All drains were cleaned, color coded and sanitized every 4 hours. They found one positive on one wheel of one dolly in our Margate location. The Dolly that had a positive on the wheel was deep cleaned and sanitized and quarantined for disposal and they disregarded all efforts and put a stop use on everything with wheels throughout the entire plant (100's!) They put a stop use in a warehouse Portion of the facility approx. 10,000 square feet for a positive they found on a dustpan that was being disposed of."