Viral picture threatens Las Cruces restaurant

A picture of a baby rat in fried rice is spreading through social media.

It's a Friday afternoon and Golden Star Chinese Restaurant on El Paso Street is empty.

The eatery is a favorite after-school spot for Las Cruces High students.

But on this unusually slow Friday, they've chosen to eat elsewhere.

"It's kind of depressing the atmosphere here," said night time manager Nikki Taylor. "All the employees know we're losing business, all the guys in the back know we're losing business. "

And it's all because of a picture, says night-time Manager Nikki Taylor, who was first shown the photo by her teacher. She says students, staff and parents at Las Cruces High told her the image came from Golden Star. She was skeptical, but after a quick search, found it to be a scam.

"It's hit Houston and Pennsylvania and other Chinese restaurants around America and people haven't been eating here," Taylor said.

Owner Randy Guan took our camera crews in the kitchen. Guan, who flew in from Boston just to contain the rumors, says he's contacted the Health Department, the police and Facebook directly, but there's nothing they can do.

Now more than ever. A Panda Express is moving in the area, and with business already 50 percent slower, Golden Star is struggling to push past this seemingly trivial scam that could shut them down.

"Why should we go out of business for something that's completely false," Taylor said.  

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