Berry's Restaurant owner discusses health reports

Restaurant inspections tough, yet vital part of food business
Scott Seitz2
Feb 16, 2014

The Huron County Public Health inspection program is 100 percent geared toward the safety of the residents.

"That's what the public expects from us," said Tim Hollinger, health commissioner.

The inspection program, particularly the restaurant division, has garnered a bit of attention recently.

The health reports, which are published in the Reflector, leave no stone unturned, as inspectors visit a variety of food establishments ranging from traditional restaurants to school cafeterias.

Some restaurant owners have called the inspection program "more aggressive," especially in the past couple years.

Doug Berry, co-owner of Berry's Restaurant, talked about how his business is trying to adapt.

"It is quite aggressive," Berry said. "But, I know the goal is to cut down on illnesses."

Berry's has been cited for a number of inspection violations in recent months. The violations have ranged from shelving units to food temperatures to insects.

"Is it good for the public? Yes," Berry said about the inspections.

But, that doesn't make it any easier on the business.

It can be expensive to comply.

Berry said the biggest challenge he faces is the building itself, which was built in 1864.

"We've torn things down, re-painted, ordered new shelving, but does anybody know it?" he said. "Sometimes I feel, when we get those things done, we just have to move to the next thing on the list. We've made the building do things it wasn't designed to do. It is special."

Keeping food at the proper temperatures can also be challenging.

"It's frustrating and difficult when you buy the best equipment and it still doesn't hold the temperature you need it to hold," Berry said.

Berry's employs 48 people, full and part time.

Training is a key component of running a successful and violation-free business.

"We have a lot of training meetings," Berry said. "We'll meet 1-to-1 or 2-to-2, but sometimes..."

Berry knows the inspectors are just doing their job.

"They are good people, who are nice and well-trained," he said.

But, his customers will ask him about the violations they read in the paper.

"They'll say, 'Doug, what does this mean?" he said.

Battling insects can be a problem at many restaurants.

"Really, there are two issues with insects," Berry said.

"First, there is a sewer outside the back door in the parking lot where we have to open the sewer cover and use bug bombs inside the sewer," he said.

Inside, Central Exterminating treats any bug problem.

Berry uses sticky pads to catch bugs.

It's tough to know where to concentrate the pads or other anti-bug devices.

"We'll put out a food or a spray that the bugs can take back to their mate and that kills whatever is left," he said.

Berry said the bugs are under control better than they've ever been.

Eric Cherry, director of environmental health, said sanitarians try to work with businesses.

Huron County Public Health currently is working toward being accredited.

Part of this process includes meeting standards.

"We did ramp up the program to meet standards," Cherry said.

Hollinger added that ramping up of the inspection program is taking it to, for starters, an entry-level position.

"That is entry level, not gold level," Hollinger said.

On an inspection, if a violation is noted, a "canned" statement is produced for the health report.

"We can add to it or modify it," Cherry said.

"The reports are really a snapshot in time," he added.

Hollinger said it would take an awful lot to close a restaurant due to violations.

Restaurants can be issued three "failure to control" violations before they have to have a sit-down meeting with Cherry and Hollinger to address issues.

"We are more than willing to work with them," Hollinger said.

"Some of this stuff is very preventable," Cherry said.

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