Epicurean, Leo’s, The Tombs, and Bangkok Bistro were high-risk violators of D.C. health code in 2009
A couple of weeks ago, Vox got the Freedom of Information Act itch and decided to FOIA the Food Establishment Inspection Reports of some local restaurants. We obtained the two most recent health inspection reports from the D.C. Health Regulations and Licensing Administration for 13 area food establishments and perused them over Spring break to see if Georgetown students were eating safe.
What’d we find? Well for starters, you’d better lay off the Epicurean sushi.
The 13 restaurants we looked at netted 30 critical violations and 29 non-critical violations of the health code. Four establishments, Leo’s, Epicurean & Co., The Tombs, and Bangkok Bistro were listed on at least one report as “high-risk” establishments. All of them had critical violations and were given five days to correct their violations or else their licenses would not be renewed.
These four establishments accounted for 20 of the critical violations and 14 of the non-critical violations in all 26 inspections reports. Six critical violations that cannot be corrected on site result in the automatic closure of the food establishment. Owners are usually given five days to rectify critical violations and forty-five for non-critical violations or they risk closure.
Because of the volume of information our FOIA requests turned up, we’ve divided the results into two posts. Tomorrow, we’ll give you the details on the restaurants that were identified as a medium risk or had clean bills of health. And today, we’ll run an accounting of the high-risk establishments, including startling information on Dean & Deluca that the Washington Examiner turned up in their review of health code violators.
EPICUREAN & CO.
Epicurean & Co., shown above, was the biggest violator, and was the only restaurant listed as a “high risk” violator on both of the inspection reports Vox obtained. In late August of 2009, Epicurean earned five critical and four non-critical violations, all of which were corrected on site. They included:
- Food was not properly “segregated, separated, [or] protected.” At the sushi station, eggs were stored in a way where they might contaminate other foods.
- The restaurant was cited for unclean and unsanitized food contact surfaces.
- The restaurant’s food marking and disposal methods were cited.
- Food and non-critical surfaces were not properly maintained.
Earlier in the year, in February, Epicurean had fared even worse, and inspectors discovered 13 critical health code violations, only nine of which were corrected on site.
Epicurean was given five days’ notice to correct the remaining four critical violations. According to the assessment form, if six critical violations that cannot be corrected on site during the inspection are found, the result is the “automatic closure and suspension of [the] food establishment.” The critical violations included:
- An employee was observed improperly washing his hands. He washed them with his rubber gloves on.
- A sushi chef was observed handling raw salmon with bare hands.
- The restaurant was not accurately keeping records of parasite destruction for its sushi products.
- The restaurant was cited for unclean and unsanitized surfaces. Cutting boards were found to have unsmooth surfaces that could trap food particles or bacteria.
- Food was not properly “segregated, separated, [or] protected.” Raw shrimp was found being stored above vegetables in the refrigerator, and partially cooked salmon was found being stored about fully cooked spare ribs and rice.
- The restaurant was cited for improper “warewashing sanitization, and frequency methods,” which includes silverware. The final rinse temperature of the dishwasher was not hot enough.
- Hot and cold foods were stored at improper temperatures. This appears to have affected dozens of foods, including salmon and several other types of fish, beef, chicken, and many other cuts of meat, and raw vegetables.
- The restaurant’s food marking and disposal methods were cited. Chicken, tomato slices, and lettuce were unmarked.
- There was no consumer food advisory for raw or undercooked food displayed at the sushi bar or on menus.
Epicurean also accrued seven non-critical violations, five of which were corrected on site. They were given 45 days’ notice to correct these, which included:
- Unclean floors between cooking units.
- Lack of handwashing signs on display at sinks.
- A sushi chef wearing a bracelet.
- A case of lids and trays being stored on the sushi bar floor.
- Employees appeared to have been cited for their personal cleanliness.
LEO J. O’DONOVAN DINING HALL
In August, about a week before the first students began to arrive at campus, Leo’s was cited for one critical violation and two non-critical violations. For the critical violation, which was corrected on site, the inspector found that there was no sneezeguard over the bread in the self-serve area.
The non-critical violations had to do with cleanliness of serving areas.
“Clean all shelving, areas around and under all work stations, all buffet display units and all [equipment] services at upper and lower food service areas, main kitchen and all sub-kitchen areas, … and storage areas daily when needed to remove dust and dried food particles,” the report instructs. “Clean floors where needed [throughout] facilities (on all levels), in corners and under, around, and behind all [equipment].”
A subsequent health inspection report found no violations.
The FOIA officer who responded to Vox‘s request only returned one health inspection for Bangkok Bistro, an October 2008 inspection report. But it suggested that Bangkok had recently been cited for critical violations, as it indicated that Bangkok had been given five days’ notice to correct them or risk closure.
“Five days’ notice abated,” the report reads. “Old refrigerator has been replaced with new one; old cutting boards has been replaced with new one [sic]; cleaned inside ice machines; foods are below 45 degrees.”
In September, The Tombs was given a critical violation for not having “food contact surfaces cleaned and sanitized,” specifically, a “dipping well” in the kitchen, but the one violation alone was enough for inspectors to finger the restaurant as a high-risk establishment. A March inspection found one non-critical violation; there was not enough light over the stove.
DEAN & DELUCA
Bonus violator! The Washington Examiner did a citywide survey that covered hundreds of restaurants that were inspected in the last three months and found that Georgetown’s own Dean & Deluca was in the top 10 violators (out of 1,900 restaurants with violations between November 1, 2009 and February 1, 2010) in the District, with seven critical violations.
Voice news will have more on Thursday. Tune in tomorrow to find out how Wisey’s, Booey’s, Tuscany, and Corp establishments fared on their most recent health inspections!
Photo of Epicurean & Co. by Jackson Perry.