The Western Beef Mystery: Why Is It Closed?

Second Update: We have heard from multiple sources that the reason Western Beef closed was a listeria problem was found during an inspection. We have NOT been able to verify this with government agencies despite a significant effort including calls to the FDA and the county. We did learn that listeria contamination is a potentially significant problem at deli counters and one of our sources did say that the problem was at the store’s deli. We do not think the store’s explanation (see below) is credible but we don’t have any solid proof that it’s false.

Update: We received a call from the main office in New York (Ben Petrofsky – general counsel). He said that the fire in late August required a lot of work to be done and that it should be open again this weekend (roughly October 25th). He did not have an explanation for the lack of public notice, and he denied that there was any emergency closing on October 15th.
Western Beef in Sandalfoot Square, West Boca Raton, Florida; Image by Google
Western Beef in Sandalfoot Square, West Boca Raton, Florida; Image by Google

Several days ago readers notified us that the Western Beef store in Sandalfoot Square was closed. We have made substantial efforts to find out what is going on and have not come up with anything solid as of yet. We don’t know if the closure is temporary or permanent, and we don’t know why.
One reader's photos of the Western Beef "closed" signs.
One reader’s photos of the Western Beef “closed” signs.

We have tried calling the store several times and there is no answer on the phone, not even a machine. Today we spoke with the Pembroke Pines store manager. He said he knows nothing about it. We also tried the Lake Worth store but could not get the manager on the phone. We called the main office in New York, a few days ago and again today. We could not get a live person on the phone and left a few messages.
Our first notice of this was October 15th, from a reader:

Shopping at western beef tonight & we had to leave before we were finished. They said they had to close because of an emergency. It was only 8:00 & they close normally at 10:00.

Readers have advanced a wide variety of theories to explain the closure. One reader said it was due to health inspectors. We don’t think that’s it, but we did see that they failed a health inspection in late September.
We searched that inspection database and this was the only failure we could find for any store in West Boca in the records. But that was late September so it doesn’t seem like an explanation for the store closing over two weeks later.
Another theory relates to a fire that happened in the store, and perhaps that they’re remodeling. But that was even longer ago, in late August.
One of the more popular ideas is that the closure is somehow mafia related. That one is mildly amusing, but doesn’t make a lot of sense to us because other stores in the chain remain open. Organized crime allegations about Western Beef have been made before.
One regular reader advanced a “gas leak” theory:

There was a gas leak. They have to replace all the pipes. No mafia stuff.

Responding to another reader’s questioning, the reader asserted it was “it was in the paper. Try reading it.” But we have searched and searched and haven’t found anything like that. And as was pointed out in response, gas leaks typically cause an evacuation of entire plazas. There was no such incident. With that said, the gas leak idea does fit with the original reader telling us it was an emergency.
Readers also offered another theory – that the closure is related to the Loxahatchee animal cruelty bust. The timing for that one is close. The scandal involves selling horse meat for human consumption in South Florida. But considering that the Pembroke Pines store remains open, this doesn’t quite fit.
For now the Western Beef closure remains a mystery. Why is it closed? Is it temporary or permanent?
Why would a chain supermarket close suddenly with no public notice other than a handwritten sign taped to the door? Why isn’t the store’s main office responding to inquiries?
Hopefully we will get answers soon.