Since being cited for critical and non-critical health violations in 2013, several Georgetown restaurants have made changes to their health code policies in response to the recent violations at gourmet grocer Dean and Deluca that forced the store to close Feb 19.
Mai Thai, Booeymonger and Wingo’s, all popular local eateries among students, have taken steps to revise their health code after being cited for critical and non-critical violations by the D.C. Department of Health.
Mai Thai, located at 3251 Prospect St., was charged with five critical and seven non-critical violations in August 2013,including for mold on the ice machine and oil buildup on the woks. Jennifer Estremera, a server at Mai Thai, said that since the violation, the establishment has been working to fix its environment in order to prevent future violations.
“We’ve been pretty much taking care of everything down to even micromanaging to make sure that it’s clean on a daily basis,” Estremera said. “For the ice machine, that’s really easy to have our servers take care of every night. For the pots and pans, we have them scrubbed down every night as well.”
Nearby Booeymonger Restaurant ,at 3265 Prospect St., was cited for four critical violations in February 2013 including mold on the ice machine and employees failing to use gloves during food preparation, all of which were fixed immediately on site.
Booeymonger’s manager A.J. Wellage said that his eatery will be prepared for the next inspection, since they consistently follow the rules.
“We are always prepared,” Wellage said. “We know what D.C. requires. That’s why I went for three years to get the certification and do the exam according to the law. Whether it is the law or not, we do have certain standards here, so we are not scared of them coming in because we are well prepared all the time.”
Wingo’s, located at 3207 O St. NW, was cited for four critical health violations in March 2012, including improper holding temperatures, lack of proper date labels and improper food separation — all of which the restaurant was able to correct on site. A follow-up inspection in December 2013 found only two critical health violations, for food separation and management awareness, both of which were corrected on site.
“They’re there to help you, and I think that’s what we realized, and I think a lot of places don’t. They hide things. They don’t realize, if it’s not clean, people see it, and that’s why their businesses aren’t doing well,” Wingo’s manager Mike Arthur said.
After being shut down Feb. 19 for the second time in one year after a routine health inspection, gourmet grocery Dean and Deluca at 3276 M St. has come under fire from area restaurateurs for repeated mismanagement.
“They close for one day, they clean the store up, they make it beautiful , and they say, “Oh good, the health department won’t be back here for six months to a year,” and that’s the only thing they’re hoping for. They’re just reacting, they’re not taking a proactive approach to address the problem; they’re just reacting to it,” Arthur said of the eatery.
The grocery, which declined to comment, received a total of six critical and eight non-critical violations including “dead mice cited at time of inspection upstairs in the food prep area and downstairs around the cheese display case” and “improper date marking on prepared foods inside of the walk-in unit upstairs,” according to the DOH inspection report. A similar incident occurred last year, when the establishment closed after receiving eight critical and 11 non-critical health violations.
“A high-end store that charges those prices should keep a much better organization and a much cleaner establishment because that’s what you’re paying for, right?” Arthur said.
According to Wellage, Dean and Deluca’s problem stems from its scale.
“I think because maybe the volume is too big for them to control,” Wellage said. “I have 10 employees. I can see them at the same time eye to eye. Maybe there are people from different departments, so some of them don’t do their job right. Here if I do something wrong, all the other nine people know that.”
Estremera said that Dean and Deluca, as well as all other Georgetown food establishments, must be wary of rodents and bugs.
“It’s our own responsibility to make sure that we do our very best in keeping everything as sealed tight as we possibly can to eliminate those occurrences that many places may see and have to deal with,” Estremera said.
Julie Reiter (NHS ’17) said that these health code violations may affect where she chooses to eat in the future.
“I’ve eaten at Mai Thai recently, and I’m definitely reconsidering eating there ever again,” Reiter said. “People expect a certain standard when they are served food at a restaurant, so I think the health code violations kind of can tell you if the standards you expect are being met.”