In the six days leading up to Thanksgiving break, the staff at O’Donovan Hall were forced to serve food with paper and plastic utensils, plates, cups and bowls because of a breakdown of the dishwashers.

Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Business Services Joelle Wiese attributed the breakdown to a malfunction in the dishwasher’s water level sensor.

“The water level sensor reached the end of its life and caused the dishwasher to shut down,” Wiese said.

Adam Shinbrot (COL ’18), a student member of the Georgetown University Student Association Dining Committee, said that the remaining dishwasher was not adequately heating the water to clean the dishes.

According to the D.C. Health Regulations and Licensing Administration, operating a dining establishment with a dishwasher that does not reach a high enough final rinse temperature is a critical health code violation.

In 2009, an inspection of Epicurean & Co. found that they were in violation of this code. Had the restaurant not immediately corrected the problem, it would have faced automatic closure.

Because both machines were out of service, Leo’s utilized a backup supply of paper and plastic utensils that is kept for emergencies.

Wiese did not specify the cost, but said that the repair of the dishwashers was inexpensive. Paper and plastic dining supplies were taken from storage and did not cost Leo’s any additional money.

“We sourced the parts and the in-house engineer at Leo’s was able to repair the unit,” she said. “The cost was minimal.”

The machines were fixed by the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, with Leo’s returning to standard operation on the same day.
A dishwasher normally lasts between 15 to 20 years. Wiese said that measures exist to prevent dishwasher malfunctions from happening in the future.

“The sensors, like other parts on the machine, wear out with use,” Wiese said. “There is a preventative maintenance program in place, though it is hard to determine when these kinds of items will finally give out.”

Shinbrot said that while it was certainly an inconvenience, Leo’s staff did the best they could to accommodate the students.

“It would have been nicer to have it fixed sooner, absolutely,” Shinbrot said. “But Leo’s did the next best thing, and I think we should commend them for that.”

Ari Goldstein (COL ’18) noted the potentially harmful environmental impact of the dishwasher malfunction.

“I personally didn’t mind using disposable plates, but I wish they had chosen a more sustainable alternative than Styrofoam,” Goldstein said. “It’s unfortunate that the incident happened at such a busy time. … I’m sure Leo’s management was doing their best to get the dishwasher fixed as quickly as possible.”

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