At the hearing, Wise called health officials’ rebuke “our wake-up call.”
“I understand why I’m here,” he said. “This was a giant mistake on our behalf. I understand what needs to be done to correct it.”
In light of the issues, Wise said oversight by the owners is now key in making sure the staff keeps the restaurant running properly. Protocols have been set up to make sure food is handled safely, to track expiration dates for food and other operating practices, and employees are required to complete daily checklists of their duties, he said.
“The checklists, obviously, go a long way,” he said. “I see a change in the operation of the store already. I see the fact that everything I have on the list is being done and all the measures that should be taken are being taken.”
Even then, Board of Health Chairwoman Candace Martin was concerned.
“I’m looking at an establishment that has been around 10 months, and you’ve had an administrative hearing, and you’ve had four inspections, and you’ve been closed,” Martin said. “You have an investment here. You should take some pride in it. You received the warnings, and you didn’t heed them.”
Wise, who opened the restaurant late last year through a partnership with two friends, acknowledged the owners are gearing up to sell the business and they want to keep the doors open until then. He said the business is taking the matter very seriously.
“The owners, we’re all scared to get our license revoked. We have $130,000 invested in this restaurant,” he said. “A revoked license, it’s all gone and we understand that. But we should have understood it further.”
While saying he was “not making excuses,” Wise attributed the April complaint, involving bad chicken tenders, as possibly coming from “a disgruntled employee at the time” who could have filed a baseless report.
The Board of Health voted to have the private firm’s inspections begin this week and that their reports be turned into the Health Department. Staff scheduled were also ordered to be filed with the Health Department.