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Downtown restaurants violate health code

Keeping a clean kitchen is the key to having a successful restaurant for Vic Pirooz, owner of Easystreet Cafe.

“I’ve been in this business for 27 years,” Pirooz said. “If we haven’t figured it out by now, we’re in trouble.”

Easystreet Cafe, along with Beckett’s Burger Bar, Reverend’s Bar and Grill, China Village and Qdoba have received spotless inspections from the health district in August.

The restaurants with the most violations for August included Hunan Palace Buffet, Bamboo Garden, The City Tap, Jed’s Barbeque and Brew and Kermit’s family restaurant.

Restaurants are inspected about two times a year by the Wood County Health District, which makes sure the facility is clean, has food at the right temperatures and that the facilities are in good condition, said Kelly Bechstein, sanitarian for the health district.

If a business is found to be in violation of the health code, the sanitarian will make note of it in the report and usually the problem can be fixed during inspection, Bechstein said.

“If it’s a repeat violation, we will educate them and let them know not to repeat it again,” she said. “Usually they clean up and we do re-inspections.”

Some of most common violations the health district finds with businesses are food temperatures in coolers being too hot or too cold, Bechstein said.

In the August inspection report for Jed’s, inspectors found three violations, including the temperature of the food cooler rising above 41 degrees.

Though the inspectors came during a lunch rush, as noted in the report, Jed’s manager John Pierce said it is no excuse.

“The temperatures should always be right,” Pierce said. “Whether it’s lunch or dinner … you can always adjust the temperature.”

Since the inspection in August, Pierce said the temperatures and other violations, such as unclean surfaces, have been fixed.

“It’s for everyone’s safety,” Pierce said. “You don’t want anyone to get sick.”

City Tap also had a violation for improper temperatures.

“Those can be hard to maintain because the prep coolers are always being opened,” said Brandon Kaufman, bar manager. “But it’s not hard to follow rules and when the inspectors find a violation, we fix it right there.”

For Garrett Jones, owner of Reverend’s, keeping the restaurant clean comes with strict enforcement.

“I ride people into the ground,” Jones said. “You either fix your bad cleaning habits or you quit.”

Reverend’s earned a clean inspection report for the month of August.

“I care,” he said. “If you are getting violations left and right it’s because you don’t care.”

Like Reverend’s, Beckett’s received a clean report by enforcing good cleaning habits.

“If everyone stays in their working roles, and cleans their area, nothing gets missed,” said Manager Chris Packard. “We wouldn’t have these regulars [eating here] if this was a dirty establishment.”

While some businesses receive violations for cleanliness or food storage, others may not be properly equipped.

Kermit’s Family Restaurant on South Main Street received a violation for having refrigerators not equipped for a restaurant.

“Our biggest problem was keeping the standards for equipment and that’s extremely expensive,” said Cassy Maas, restaurant supervisor. “We were aware of the problem but don’t have the extra money to do that.”

Kermit’s has until January to replace the home-sized refrigerators.

When a business is found to be in violation, Bechstein said inspectors may do a follow up inspection the next day or a few weeks later to see if the problem has been corrected.

If a business is a repeat offender, there could be trouble.

The health district would set up a meeting with its director and the business owner to discuss the problem and why it needs to be corrected, Bechstein said.

If nothing changes, then the owner would have to go to an administrative hearing with the district, she said.

“I’ve never had to go that far during my time here, luckily,” Bechstein said. “We just like to see the problem fixed as soon as they can.”

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