Colorado restaurant to remain closed for weeks following hepatitis A incident, bad inspection

Posted on July 13, 2014 by

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by Doug Powell

A Fort Collins, Colorado restaurant has chosen to remain closed for at least six weeks to address numerous food safety issues highlighted in a poor inspection coupled with a food handler being diagnosed with hepatitis A.

According to The Coloradoan, owners Louann DeCoursey and Mike Piotraschke are curiously using the window of developing symptoms post hep a exposure as a timeline for reopening their restaurant, Tortilla Marissa’s.Unknown-1

“The Health Department can’t tell me if the person brought it here or if it was here and he contracted it,” Piotraschke said. “The blame game isn’t working. Let’s just follow the procedures and do what we need to do (to reopen).”

Piotraschke was thankful that his employee reported the illness.

“The person is probably feeling a lot of guilt, but should be commended for coming to us,” he said.

He couldn’t force anyone to get the hepatitis A shot, but he thinks all workers did, “to protect the business.” (in contrast to early reports where the owners said they were requiring all staff to get vaccinated before coming back -ben)

“I didn’t even think twice,” Heidi Blackmar, 32, said about eating at the restaurant in mid-June despite an “inadequate” inspection by the Health Department a few weeks earlier.

In Tortilla Marissa’s case, the inadequate inspection in late May meant a lack of accurate thermometers to test food temperatures, improper hot and cold “holding” of the food after it was cooked, insufficient employee handwashing, and blocked access to a sink used for that purpose.

Now that the restaurant is closed, Piotraschke said he is glad to have time to address all of the inspection concerns.

“I think we improved on what the (Health Department) gave us,” Piotraschke said. “As a manager and owner, I’m going to be a pain in the butt (to employees) … but I don’t like to be considered average, I want us to be excellent.”

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the way we’ve handled this.” Come August, “I would anticipate just being like a brand-new restaurant.”

Based on the risky violations highlighted in the inspection report (temperature abuse, a lack of handwashing compliance and no thermometers) a brand-new approach to food safety was needed to protect the health of patrons and the business.

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Posted in: Family safety