September 25, 2012

Portland's high standards causing failed inspections, restaurants say

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

The Kon Asian Bistro in Portland is one of many restaurants that has failed a recent health inspection, with the inspector finding 31 violations, including 14 critical ones. “We will cooperate with the city," manager Chris Chan said. “Whatever they want us to do, we will try our best.”

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

In this May 2011 file photo, Travis Curran of Otto Pizza tosses pizza pies as Nick Belkas adds the special eclectic toppings that attracted the attention of the Food Network. Otto is one of many restaurants that failed a recent health inspection by Portland, but it passed its follow-up inspection, unlike many others.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

Related headlines

Portland Eating Establishments
Click on name to read restaurant inspection
Applebee's - Failed
Buffalo Wings-N-Things - Failed
Burger King, Forest Ave. - Passed
Casablanca - Passed
Chiang Mai Two - Passed
Clarion Hotel - Failed, Passed Follow-up
D'Angelo's - Failed
Diamond Cove General Store - Failed
DiMillo's - Passed*
Dunkin Donuts, 1199 Congress - Passed
Dunkin Donuts, 363 Fore - Passed
Embassy Suites - Failed
Emilitsa - Failed
Fishermen's Grill - Failed
Five Guys - Passed
Four-Star China Taste - Failed
Haggerty's - Failed, Passed Follow-up
Hugo's - Failed
Kon Asian Bistro - Failed
Lang's Express - Failed
Little Lads Bakery - Failed
Marcy's - Failed, Passed Follow-up
Miyake - Failed
New Venue - Passed
Nosh - Failed
Ottos, 576 Congress - Failed, Passed Follow-up
Pan Mei Miyake - Failed, Passed Follow-up
Passage to India - Failed
Pat's Meat Market - Failed
Petite Jacqueline - Failed
Portland Museum of Art Café - Failed
Preble Street Resource Center - Failed
Sabor Latino - Failed
Salads Etc. - Failed
Schulte & Herr - Passed
Stareast Café - Failed
Susan's - Failed, Passed Follow-up
The Porthole - Failed
The Thirsty Pig - Failed
Through the Woods at Riverside - Passed
Tim Hortons - Failed
Tortilla Flats - Failed, Passed Follow-up
Tu Casa - Failed
Valley Chinese - Failed
Vignola Cinque Terra - Failed
Waddapita - Failed
West End Deli - Failed
Wild Burritos - Failed, Passed Follow-up
Wok Inn - Failed
Woodfords Club - Passed
* State restaurant inspection

Jason Loring, chef and co-owner of Nosh -- which failed an inspection last year and apparently never had a follow-up visit, as required -- said he thinks the city is paying closer attention to restaurants. When code officers did inspections, he said, they would only last five minutes. The last inspection lasted nearly an hour.

"I definitely think they're holding us to higher standards, because they're actually doing inspections now, where before they weren't really doing them," Loring said. "I don't really have a problem with it. It's all about safety."

Restaurants that failed at least one inspection over the last year run the gamut from diners to gourmet. Burger King on Forest Avenue was inspected because of a complaint last September, but the restaurant passed its inspection.

Two Dunkin' Donuts stores also passed their inspection, as did Five Guys Burgers on Fore Street, which was inspected based on a complaint that could not be substantiated.

Five Guys general manager Jaci Rubchinuk said cleanliness is vital to the store brand. A third-party service inspects each restaurant on a quarterly basis, she said. Franchises that pass inspection receive incentives, while those that fail are shamed.

"Your score gets immediately emailed to every other Five Guys," she said. "If you don't do well, everyone knows and it's horrible and humiliating."

Petite Jacqueline, a bistro nominated for a coveted James Beard award, was inspected Jan. 26 after several people complained about getting sick after eating there. Sturgeon failed the restaurant, finding 26 violations, including refrigeration issues, broken cutting boards and utensils stored in standing water. On Feb. 16, she failed it again.

Liz Koenigsberg, part-owner and acting general manager, said Petite Jacqueline has made the necessary changes listed in its report. Despite failing a second time, there is no record of a third inspection.

"We do feel (Sturgeon) is taking a harder path than her predecessors," Koenigsberg said. "We feel this is beneficial to the city, especially moving forward. But it does pose a challenge on a day-to-day basis for restaurants that have been around for years."

The Otto's Pizza location at 576 Congress St. was inspected after someone complained that an employee's sweat dripped into the dough and that cooked pizzas were left out on the counter near customers with no sneeze guard.

Otto's failed its inspection with 27 violations. But the shop passed a follow-up inspection nearly a month later with eight violations. Repeat violations included a door that was propped open, uncovered pizzas, improper utensil storage and flies.

Otto's spokesman Frank Gallagher said he doesn't believe the inspection process has become any stricter. He said that all issues cited in the inspection report have been taken care of.

"My understanding is that everything is up to par," he said.

Kon Asian Bistro on Brighton Avenue failed its Jan. 24 inspection with 31 violations, including 14 that were critical. The five-page report notes the restaurant is being treated monthly for mice and rats. Kon failed a follow-up inspection the next day with 13 violations.

Kon manager Chris Chan said no one has complained about getting sick from eating at the restaurant. He said Sturgeon is setting a higher standard than previous inspectors.

"We will cooperate with the city," Chan said. "Whatever they want us to do, we will try our best."

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

rbillings@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @randybilling

CORRECTION: This story was updated Monday Sept. 24 to reflect that DiMillo’s passed its restaurant inspection.

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