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HomeNewsArchivesCOMPLIANCE IS KEY TO RESTAURANTS REOPENING

COMPLIANCE IS KEY TO RESTAURANTS REOPENING

Six Cruz Bay restaurant owners and their patrons won't soon forget the day the health inspector came to town.
It was Friday when they met Ethelyn Joseph, head of the Health Department's Division of Environmental Health, a straight-shooter who calls herself firm but fair. She led the inspection of six establishments — and closed five on the spot.
Joseph says she made the trip from St. Thomas because of "numerous calls" her office had received from St. John. "I sent inspectors. They always came up with some excuse," she said.
She also described herself as "very lenient." In contrast, the attorney for the one restaurant owner who was arrested accused her of playing a "negative and uncooperative role" and of being "heavy handed."
Joseph ordered Woody's Seafood Saloon, Joe's Diner, the Rolling Pin Bakery, the Front Yard and the Tropicalia Deli closed immediately on Friday –in effect shutting them down over the weekend until authorities can return on Monday for re-inspection. The place that passed muster was the Mongoose Junction Restaurant.
Most of the businesses were closed for health card violations and expired business health certificates, Joseph said. One permit was three years outdated. Some were not publicly displayed.
Ron Klingsberg at the Rolling Pin was cited for permit infractions, flour and cheese on the floor, food handlers not using gloves, and improperly stored items in the refrigerator. "It was stupid, and they caught me," he said Saturday while cleaning up the place. And the upshot: "I have 10 people who didn't work today."
Klingsberg said he paid the $380 in fees for the building health permit on the spot. He said the inspection team — Joseph, other Health employees and agents of the Planning and Natural Resources Department — spent about two hours in his shop. Joseph said that after Klingsberg told her he had four weddings to prepare for over the weekend, she allowed him to come in and work, although the shop remained closed. "I'm very lenient with people," she said.
At Joe's Diner, a popular fast-food patio restaurant, two female employees "had no health cards, no health permits," Joseph said. After the owner gave her a check to pay for the health cards, "I got a message to them that they could reopen as long as they get the health permit and their health card," she said.
At Tropicale, a gourmet deli in Palm Plaza, Joseph said, "not one of the people had a health card." The manager closed the shop and sent the workers home to get their cards. Inspectors found chicken parts in a pail on the floor near the deli section, insect parts on floor- level shelves where condiments were stored, and paper bags stored on the floor.
Owner Suzanne Dion had been ill and left others in charge, but she came to the store when notified of the inspectors' arrival, "closed the store and sent people to get their health permits," Joseph said.
At the Front Yard bar, the inspectors found a quilt and other bedding in the kitchen. Joseph said she asked "if there was anyone sleeping there" and was answered in the affirmative. Inspectors also found a toilet in the kitchen area without a wall to separate it; rust, paper and garbage in the sink; bread on the floor; insect parts in the flatware storage area and accumulated street dust on the floor behind the bar.
"The Front Yard will not open on Monday," Joseph said. No fine was issued, she said, but an inspector will return for another look by the week's end.
At Woody's Seafood Saloon, the Planning and Natural Resources inspector found gray water covered with gravel outside the restaurant. The official told manager Todd Mann "that was a $10,000 fine," Joseph said.
The restaurant's source of hot water was a hose run through a window, and it wasn't hot enough. After pointing out the problem, Joseph said, she left and then returned "20 to 30 minutes later" to recheck the water. "It was cold," she said.
Kitchen violations reportedly included insect parts and a greasy floor and grill. Joseph said when she told the cook he needed an apron and a hat, he ignored her and continued preparing food. "His fingernails was the same color as the grill," she added.
The order to close was issued just before Friday's happy hour at Woody's, a favorite stop for locals and visitors. Mann, 30, was arrested after he allegedly assaulted a police officer, but was released on $1,000 bail, according to Capt. Roberto Simmonds, Zone D police commander.
It's Joseph's opinon that the enforcement officers let the situation get out of hand at Woody's. Simmonds said the officer involved had been about to arrest Mann by order of Health Commissioner Wilbur Callender for re-opening without permission.
Mann's version of what transpired differs decidedly. He said he went to get an electrician to deal with his water heater, as ordered by Joseph, but she refused to wait and re-test the water temperature, even though St. John administrator Julien Harley, who was in the establishment, had the attorney general on the telephone asking her to wait.
Mann quoted Joseph saying "she didn't have time to come back and see if my business is in compliance. She handed me a piece of paper and said ‘This business is closed,'" he said. At some point, he said, Joseph went to the nearby police station to speak with Simmonds.
The captain asked where the sanitation violations were documented and said the gray water covered with gravel was on an adjacent property and has been a problem for months.
J. Brion Morrisette, Mann's attorney, said he understood that sanitation violations were not cited at the time Woody's was shut down. The violation allegations did not emerge "until the negative and uncooperative role [Joseph] played came to light," he said. At issue, Morrisette said, is the "heavy handed and uncooperative way the businesses were closed on a Friday afternoon in late season."
All but Mongoose Junction Restaurant.
Garrett Caughey, who with his father, Dan, recently bought the restaurant, said Mongoose, too, was cited for lack of hot water. But he said he took care of the problem before the inspection team completed its hour and a half visit.
"My father comes from a company that teaches sanitation to chef schools," Caughey said. Friday's inspection "wasn't a walk-through," he said. "They were concerned about a lot of things."
Joseph returned the compliment. "We asked for their health permits, and they had them," she said. But some employees didn't have their health cards, "so he sent them home" to get them. She said when she cited a deli worker for not using plastic gloves, the manager left and returned with gloves for his workers. "He was very cooperative," she said.

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Six Cruz Bay restaurant owners and their patrons won't soon forget the day the health inspector came to town.
It was Friday when they met Ethelyn Joseph, head of the Health Department's Division of Environmental Health, a straight-shooter who calls herself firm but fair. She led the inspection of six establishments -- and closed five on the spot.
Joseph says she made the trip from St. Thomas because of "numerous calls" her office had received from St. John. "I sent inspectors. They always came up with some excuse," she said.
She also described herself as "very lenient." In contrast, the attorney for the one restaurant owner who was arrested accused her of playing a "negative and uncooperative role" and of being "heavy handed."
Joseph ordered Woody's Seafood Saloon, Joe's Diner, the Rolling Pin Bakery, the Front Yard and the Tropicalia Deli closed immediately on Friday --in effect shutting them down over the weekend until authorities can return on Monday for re-inspection. The place that passed muster was the Mongoose Junction Restaurant.
Most of the businesses were closed for health card violations and expired business health certificates, Joseph said. One permit was three years outdated. Some were not publicly displayed.
Ron Klingsberg at the Rolling Pin was cited for permit infractions, flour and cheese on the floor, food handlers not using gloves, and improperly stored items in the refrigerator. "It was stupid, and they caught me," he said Saturday while cleaning up the place. And the upshot: "I have 10 people who didn't work today."
Klingsberg said he paid the $380 in fees for the building health permit on the spot. He said the inspection team -- Joseph, other Health employees and agents of the Planning and Natural Resources Department -- spent about two hours in his shop. Joseph said that after Klingsberg told her he had four weddings to prepare for over the weekend, she allowed him to come in and work, although the shop remained closed. "I'm very lenient with people," she said.
At Joe's Diner, a popular fast-food patio restaurant, two female employees "had no health cards, no health permits," Joseph said. After the owner gave her a check to pay for the health cards, "I got a message to them that they could reopen as long as they get the health permit and their health card," she said.
At Tropicale, a gourmet deli in Palm Plaza, Joseph said, "not one of the people had a health card." The manager closed the shop and sent the workers home to get their cards. Inspectors found chicken parts in a pail on the floor near the deli section, insect parts on floor- level shelves where condiments were stored, and paper bags stored on the floor.
Owner Suzanne Dion had been ill and left others in charge, but she came to the store when notified of the inspectors' arrival, "closed the store and sent people to get their health permits," Joseph said.
At the Front Yard bar, the inspectors found a quilt and other bedding in the kitchen. Joseph said she asked "if there was anyone sleeping there" and was answered in the affirmative. Inspectors also found a toilet in the kitchen area without a wall to separate it; rust, paper and garbage in the sink; bread on the floor; insect parts in the flatware storage area and accumulated street dust on the floor behind the bar.
"The Front Yard will not open on Monday," Joseph said. No fine was issued, she said, but an inspector will return for another look by the week's end.
At Woody's Seafood Saloon, the Planning and Natural Resources inspector found gray water covered with gravel outside the restaurant. The official told manager Todd Mann "that was a $10,000 fine," Joseph said.
The restaurant's source of hot water was a hose run through a window, and it wasn't hot enough. After pointing out the problem, Joseph said, she left and then returned "20 to 30 minutes later" to recheck the water. "It was cold," she said.
Kitchen violations reportedly included insect parts and a greasy floor and grill. Joseph said when she told the cook he needed an apron and a hat, he ignored her and continued preparing food. "His fingernails was the same color as the grill," she added.
The order to close was issued just before Friday's happy hour at Woody's, a favorite stop for locals and visitors. Mann, 30, was arrested after he allegedly assaulted a police officer, but was released on $1,000 bail, according to Capt. Roberto Simmonds, Zone D police commander.
It's Joseph's opinon that the enforcement officers let the situation get out of hand at Woody's. Simmonds said the officer involved had been about to arrest Mann by order of Health Commissioner Wilbur Callender for re-opening without permission.
Mann's version of what transpired differs decidedly. He said he went to get an electrician to deal with his water heater, as ordered by Joseph, but she refused to wait and re-test the water temperature, even though St. John administrator Julien Harley, who was in the establishment, had the attorney general on the telephone asking her to wait.
Mann quoted Joseph saying "she didn't have time to come back and see if my business is in compliance. She handed me a piece of paper and said ‘This business is closed,'" he said. At some point, he said, Joseph went to the nearby police station to speak with Simmonds.
The captain asked where the sanitation violations were documented and said the gray water covered with gravel was on an adjacent property and has been a problem for months.
J. Brion Morrisette, Mann's attorney, said he understood that sanitation violations were not cited at the time Woody's was shut down. The violation allegations did not emerge "until the negative and uncooperative role [Joseph] played came to light," he said. At issue, Morrisette said, is the "heavy handed and uncooperative way the businesses were closed on a Friday afternoon in late season."
All but Mongoose Junction Restaurant.
Garrett Caughey, who with his father, Dan, recently bought the restaurant, said Mongoose, too, was cited for lack of hot water. But he said he took care of the problem before the inspection team completed its hour and a half visit.
"My father comes from a company that teaches sanitation to chef schools," Caughey said. Friday's inspection "wasn't a walk-through," he said. "They were concerned about a lot of things."
Joseph returned the compliment. "We asked for their health permits, and they had them," she said. But some employees didn't have their health cards, "so he sent them home" to get them. She said when she cited a deli worker for not using plastic gloves, the manager left and returned with gloves for his workers. "He was very cooperative," she said.