VERSAILLES – Due to several re-occurring violations, the Old Brick Tavern, Sunman, did not have its food permit renewed for 2014.
“We have some concerns,” administrator Tony Schneider announced to Ripley County Health Department members Jan. 28.
During inspections from Nov. 14, 2012-May 17, 2013, the restaurant had 14 critical and 14 noncritical findings. The more serious infractions ranged from a drain leaking into the basement and insects in the kitchen to date markings not being used and equipment not looking or feeling clean.
From July 10-Sept. 26, 2013, the establishment had 13 critical and three noncritical problems. At that time, the more serious items ranged from raw chicken being stored above ready-to-eat foods and insects in the kitchen to equipment needing to be cleaned.
On Nov. 1, 2013, an inspector found six critical violations, including inadequate temperatures and fryer baskets and the grill having a large buildup of debris, and one noncritical violation.
Health officer Dr. David Welsh noted, “Some of the issues were dealt with, but others were not.”
Restaurant owner Kenneth Moeller told members, “It was a little bit surprising to me (that the permit was not renewed). I thought I made some progress on those issues, and I’m still striving to do it. It’s my livelihood. I’m trying to maintain a higher standard to continue to serve the people of Ripley County.”
Welsh pointed out, “There were a number of inspections, and some of them were pretty bad .... I commend you on the improvements made at the beginning of last year, but things seemed to be sliding during the latter part of 2013 .... Once you’ve had the findings you’ve had in the past, you’re going to be looked at more closely because we have a responsibility to the public.”
Moeller said, “All along, as things came up, they were addressed .... I’m trying to rectify all the issues.”
Member Dr. Steve Stein wondered, “What steps have you taken?”
The restaurant owner revealed, “We had insects in the spring. Tony told me to get some proper insect repellent, and I did .... I installed new lighting .... There were mouse droppings, but that was taken care of, and there’s never been another sighting.” He also said he checks the temperatures of cold items, and they are fine, but when the county environmental health specialist comes, her thermometer shows it’s not cool enough.
Welsh observed, “If this is a recurring thing, we need to do something about it .... a simple fix might be for you to get a new thermometer .... Another thing that keeps showing up has to do with the buildup on the fryer baskets. How often are they scrubbed?”
Moeller answered, “Obviously, I have to scrub them more often.”
Mold has also been found many times on the ice machine. The health officer noted, “We need to find out why.” He suggested having a service person check the machine.
Welsh recalled, “My first job was in a restaurant in Indianapolis .... They had a list of what the state and the chain expected in regard to the frequency of equipment being cleaned .... If you had a list to go by, that would go a long way to show us and the public that you were” trying to make improvements. “It would give you your own checklist to follow.”
Member Dr. Jim Hollis commented, “Coming from a background in meat inspection, when a plant was closed down, we had to have a plan in writing before it opened again ..... I think in this case, we need something written first and then we do the inspection to make sure you’re following the steps .... We’re talking about people’s health here.”
Stein emphasized, “I think what we’re saying is we take this seriously, and we think you should list those things that should be done on a regular basis .... If it’s not done, it’s over.”
Welsh informed Moeller, “We need your game plan in writing, and when you’re ready for an inspection, let us know.”
As of Feb. 19, the health department had not heard anything from Moeller, according to administrator adviser Pat Thomas.
Diane Raver can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.