Health authorities shut down three restaurants Friday at the start of one of the busiest summer long weekends.
The restaurants La Bocca, La Brasserie and the Amsterdam Pub are linked with a shared kitchen, which was found to have four critical health violations.
"Weve closed the restaurants in the interest of public health protection," said local environmental health officer Cindy Watson after the weekend.
According to the health authoritys website the violations include improper cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and utensils and inadequate cooling and refrigerated storage of potentially hazardous food.
In particular, the health officer found the wiping cloths were not clean, nor stored in approved sanitizing solution and the preparation tables and cutting boards were also not adequately cleaned.
The refrigeration equipment was also found to be in poor condition and some high hazard food items were not being stored at the proper temperature.
A summary of the violations uncovered during the inspection can be found at www.healthspace.ca/vch. That website also includes details of the health inspections of all local restaurants.
General Manager Alastair Gregor explained that a staff member, returning from a trip, got sick and went to the hospital. The illness triggered the investigation.
Now he said they are taking full advantage of the forced closure for a complete overhaul of the kitchen, including everything from new refrigeration equipment, new cutting boards, dishwashers, a fresh coat of paint, new lighting and venting.
One of the major issues he said was dealing with 20-year-old equipment and that will all be replaced.
"(Were) taking full advantage of this closure to completely renovate the backend of the restaurant," said Gregor.
The front end is also getting a facelift too.
Watson prepared a list of procedures, which must be followed in order for the restaurants to reopen.
Comments on the website include: "The facility must be thoroughly cleaned, food contact surfaces cleaned and sanitized Given high volume of business and service to three food service units from this main kitchen, dedicated cleaning /janitorial /maintenance staff are recommended."
The three restaurants were also without an adequate food safety plan and sanitation plan.
" Since the year 2000 its a requirement that every food service establishment has a written food safety plan," said Watson. "Every restaurant in town should have one of those. Now, they dont all have one, but its getting better."
The fine for failing to have adequate written food handling procedures and sanitation procedures is $230 each. These plans must be submitted to the health authorities before the restaurants can reopen.
Gregor is hoping to have the restaurants open by the weekend but that will depend when the new equipment arrives. They are hoping to be open as soon as possible. Ultimately they will need written permission from the health authorities before that happens.
"All in all the whole thing is a good thing because it enables us to really get up to snuff," said Gregor.
The kitchen at La Bocca services the Amsterdam Pub, La Bocca and partially services La Brasserie. Though they are now closed for food service, the Amsterdam is still serving alcohol.