SOUTH PORTLAND — The city’s health inspector shut down the Charleys Philly Steaks sub shop in the Maine Mall food court for several days this month after finding cockroaches in the kitchen during repeated inspections.

Health Inspector Derrick Stephens said it’s the first time he has shut down a food service establishment in South Portland for a health code violation since he took the position with the city five years ago.

Stephens first shut down Charleys on Dec. 13, after someone approached him while he was at the mall and told him there was a “cockroach issue” at the counter-service chain restaurant. Charleys has more than 500 locations worldwide.

When Stephens inspected the restaurant, he saw a cockroach on the floor by a three-bin sink near the back door, he wrote in a complaint and inspection report provided to the Portland Press Herald after a public records request.

Stephens issued an Imminent Health Hazard closure citation that said: “Cockroaches found in kitchen. Establishment will remain closed until inspection is conducted by health inspector and pest control company has been called in for corrective action.”

RESPONSE TO COMPLAINT

Stephens attributed the cockroaches to “not using proper methods to control them.” He also noted seeing a Charleys employee eating in the kitchen, which is prohibited under state law because it may contaminate food or food service tools.

Stephens allowed the restaurant to open the next morning after a pest control company treated the space and Stephens saw no cockroaches during a walk-through visit, he said in an email Friday to the newspaper.

Stephens returned to Charleys on Dec. 15 for a full inspection and again found cockroaches in the kitchen, “due to not routinely inspecting incoming shipments of food and supplies,” according to his second report. He also found a walk-in cooler without a thermometer, dirty walls and ceiling tiles, and dirty heating and air conditioning vents above a food fryer.

Stephens issued a second Imminent Health Hazard closure citation that said: “Cockroaches found again. … Cannot open until treated by pest company and (professionally) cleaned.”

This time, the restaurant remained closed through the weekend.

“They stayed closed until Monday after lunch time,” Stephens said via email. “After they had a pest company come in and a professional cleaning company come in … I came back and looked it over and allowed them to re-open.”

THIRD INSPECTION OK

Stephens said he informed the person in charge that he would return Thursday for a third complete inspection. When he did, he saw no cockroaches, but he still found dirty ceiling tiles that must be cleaned or replaced.

“At that time they passed,” Stephens said via email. “Continued pest management and keeping the place clean seems to have mitigated the problem.”

Stephens said he inspected other restaurants in the food court and saw no signs of pests.

The supervisor at Charleys on Friday afternoon refused to give his name and said he was unaware of any health code violations related to cockroaches. He attributed the recent closures to a computer error and referred additional questions to the owner, who he said wouldn’t be available until Saturday.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

filed under: