WAPAKONETA – The Wooden Shoe Inn in Minster received a second 30 day reprieve from threatened revocation of their food license at a meeting of the Auglaize County Health Board Tuesday.
Environmental Health Director Curt Anderson told the board that an inspection 1 ½ weeks ago had shown enough progress in facility cleaning and improving food handling procedures to merit another 30 day probation.
“I think they have come to understand that we (health department) are serious,” he said.
The restaurant had been cited for repeated health code violations over the last several years. At the May Health Board meeting it was decided to allow the business have a 30-day probationary period to remedy violations. Anderson said last month that he initially favored a food license suspension of up to 90 days because of a history on non-compliance. He said the latest round started when Anderson sent a letter in 2016 complaining of problems in 2014 and 2015.
Owners Fred Meyer and John Hobbler presented the board a list of what had been accomplished so far, which included the floor being replaced behind the bar by June 24. The list also said they will begin repair of the floors around the restrooms.
Hoods and vents are being cleaned professionally and they have signed contracts to strip and wax dining rooms floors as well clean the walls there. They said they had been seeking bids from contractors to remodel the kitchen, back restrooms and to incorporate the back bar area into the kitchen. “One godsend was that we do not open until 4 p.m., so have five to six hours a day to work on the building,” Meyer said.
Also being replaced was the steam tables and the grill was to be replaced with a commercial unit. A non-functioning food cooler was replaced by the restaurant’s beer cooler as a temporary fix so food could be stored safely.
Meyer said they plan to close for 3 to 5 days in 2020 to renovate the kitchen completely.
Meyer said the repairs and cleaning and negative publicity was putting a serious strain on their finances. They had pleaded for the probation period in May, saying that even a 30-day food license suspension would close them down permanently.
The major food violations that had the potential for food poisoning included leaving barbecue sauce at room temperature, red potatoes left overnight in an unheated steam table, a non-functioning cooler in which ice was being used to keep food cold, and lack of expiration date labels on food.
Many of the other violations were for cleanliness, from removing mold from cooler walls to not cleaning kitchen equipment on a regular basis. The inspections reported over-turned garbage cans and dirty floors.
The next meeting of the Health Board is July 9. Anderson said that if conditions have improved enough, the owners may not even be required to appear.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.