by Sarah Einselen
Cass County Health Department inspectors shut down King Grill Buffet, 3820 E. Market St., for a weekend early this month after an inspection turned up several food storage problems at the restaurant.
It was the third establishment the health department has ordered closed this year, according to former health inspector McCall Kitchel, who recently took another job. The two others, Mi Camino Real, a restaurant, and Carniceria La Fiesta, a meat shop, were each closed for one day.
The report of a Sept. 28 inspection, conducted because of a complaint the health department received, listed seven violations at King Grill Buffet, four of them critical. The violations ranged from undated, opened containers of food to raw beef and raw chicken left out in a temperature of 51 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the report. A living space opening directly onto the dining room was also required to be closed off with a set of doors, the report states. The buffet was ordered closed after that inspection.
A follow-up inspection the next Monday, Oct. 1, found 12 violations, including four repeat violations, according to the report. The health inspector found cockroaches and gnats as well as additional food storage problems and some pests and a mold-like substance on cutting boards, the report states.
The restaurant remained under the closure order until Oct. 2. Then, the health inspector conducted another follow-up inspection. One violation was noted, a non-critical one, and the health inspector permitted the buffet to reopen after three and a half days of closure, according to the report.
One group of friends who ate lunch at the buffet said they believed the restaurant had purposely covered up the health department’s closure order in the front window to stay open.
Elizabeth Murphy, who was dining with her husband Shawn Murphy and their friends Tim and Regina Caroway, said they saw a restaurant staffer pull a blue paper sign off the window, exposing a green sign underneath. The green sign was an order of closure from the health department.
Restaurant manager Cathy He said the foursome had entered the restaurant and ate there just before the health inspector arrived, but agreed to refund their money anyway. She said the restaurant was never open while the closure order was in effect. Health inspectors declined to comment on the buffet beyond what was listed in the report.
“We have had instances in the past where an establishment has covered our sign with their own,” said Robert McLaughlin, director of environmental health at the Cass County Health Department. “This is frowned upon and if we find it we will make them take it down. I am not at liberty to discuss whether this was the case with King Grill or not.”
A restaurant refusing a closure order might possibly face revocation of its permit to operate a retail food establishment indefinitely, Kitchel said, but that decision would have to be made by the department’s health officer or the board of health.
The Murphys and Caroways didn’t suffer any health issues after lunch Sept. 28. They had formerly dined at the buffet two or three times a month, said Murphy, but wouldn’t be back anymore. “It scared the crap out of us,” she said.
To access copies of Cass County food inspections, log on to www.co.cass.in.us/dav/health/