The McDonough County Health Department temporarily closed a popular Mexican restaurant in Macomb. Guadalajara Bar and Grill on East Jackson Street passed a routine health inspection with conditions on Monday, August 28. The health department noted in its report four violations that could present a food borne illness risk and three repeat violations.
Chris Adams, the Environmental Health Director at the Health Department, said all problems were corrected on site, the staff was retrained, and the restaurant was allowed to stay open under the condition that a follow up inspection would occur three days later.
Adams said when the health department arrived for the follow up inspection Thursday morning, August 31, it was clear things had not improved. He said the same violations were present and they observed six more repeat violations.
“In my 11 years, I don’t think I have ever had a follow up where we’ve had even more risk factors identified or observed on a follow up,” Adams said. “Normally that follow up [inspection] is to basically get everything corrected and start a new slate going into that next routine inspection.”
Adams said the same staff was present at both inspections. He said it’s difficult to identify what exactly is going wrong and why the same behaviors continue. “It’s either a failing on the training side or the management side or the owner’s side.”
This is not the first time the restaurant was closed temporarily for failing an inspection.
Adams said the Health Department has had several meetings with the owner of the restaurant, held compliance conferences, and provided additional staff training.
Also, the Health Department inspects Guadalajara more frequently -- four times a year -- compared to the required two inspections a year for other restaurants of the same classification.
“I have spent a lot of time and resources with the staff here at the health department and we are not seeing the improvements that we need to see,” Adams said.
Another closure by the Health Department could prompt the Board of Public Health to hold a hearing to consider revoking the business’ license.
The Health Department’s inspection notes that during the follow up the main hand sink was broken and the hot water was not working. “If you can’t wash hands, then that’s a risk factor. We have to have food handlers washing hands in between tasks or interrupted tasks or handling raw to ready to eat food,” Adams said.
Other violations included incorrectly dating and labeling food, employees unaware of cleaning requirements, and food being kept at the wrong temperatures during cooling, which the Health Department said can lead to bacteria growth on food.
Guadalajara was placed on a 72 hour closure on Thursday, August 31. Adams said to reopen, the restaurant needs to pass inspection and the owner must pay a $6,000 fine.
Despite the Labor Day holiday weekend, Adams said the Health Department was available to complete another inspection, but the restaurant owner did not request one.
Adams said the restaurant owner did not scheduled a new inspection and staff training session until Wednesday afternoon. Following that, the owner has been given the all clear to reopen the restaurant as of Thursday, September 7.
The McDonough County Health Department has some discretion when it comes to deciding whether to issue a temporarily closure of a restaurant after a subpar inspection. Adams said it largely comes down to whether there appears to be chronic problems at a facility and a record of the same violations occurring.