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District Of Columbia, Prince George's and Fairfax County Restaurant Health Closures And Missing Website Data At District Department Of Health

12:57 PM, Jun 4, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -  (WUSA) The 9 Wants to Know restaurant report identifies missing data on the District of Columbia's Health Department website, and finds food risk closures in Prince George's and Fairfax Counties, and here in the District of Columbia, right down the street from our studios on Wisconsin Avenue.

The closures stemmed from violations reported by inspectors May 21 through May 25.

Inside the Tenleytown Prince Café on Wisconsin Avenue Northwest, inspectors reported "gross unsanitary conditions" which may "endanger the public health."

"Not good," said neighbor Pam Frederick, who had eaten there. "Unclean, I should say."

Inspectors reported finding unclean containers, dead roaches in light fixtures, uncleaned and heavily stained cutting boards, and no hot water.

"That's not a very good thing," said neighbor Robert Linden. "Of course not."

The Prince Café remained closed a week later and no one is answering the phone number they have advertised in the window.

Neighbors say the restaurant has a reputation for not being tidy.

Inside, dishes can be seen stacked in a rack, outside hookah pipes are draped across the back porch, pans and cooking equipment are exposed to the elements, and a backdoor is spray painted "danger."

Neighbors in this Northwest neighborhood say they've complained multiple times, but the District's webpage doesn't document any previous inspections at the location.

Only after 9News Now inquired did the District Department of Health update its website to show last week's one complaint inspection which led to the closure.

According to health department records, one of the violations cited was operating with a suspended license. However, the District's website shows no such suspensions.

The missing Prince Café inspection is only one example of critical reports 9 Wants to Know found that are not included on the District's Department of Health website.

Click here to see where District of Columbia restaurant inspections are required to be posted: http://washington.dc.gegov.com/webadmin/dhd_431/web/index.cfm

A District spokeswoman did not respond to emails, and declined to explain why inspections, as long as a year ago, where officials identified food dangers so significant they ordered immediate closures, are not listed.

When 9 News Now notified the health department Thursday that we were prepared to report the department wasn't responding, a spokesman called by phone.

"It would be an inaccurate story to say that the majority of restaurant inspections are not posted," Department of Health spokeswoman Najma Roberts said. "The team works extremely hard."

The official said some cases require additional review, but when pressed on the department's own policy requiring postings within seven days, the official hung up the phone.

Shortly after, Roberts sent an email, saying the agency's "primary concern is to protect the health and safety of residents."

"If there are cases that have not been updated in over a month, we will certainly look into these isolated incidences and work to correct any technical glitches," Roberts said. "There are certain cases where specific reports require additional review, as I pointed out previously this is called the due diligence process."

A closing of a very different kind at occurred at a Fairfax County restaurant.

This time, the violation was making a pizza without a license.

Fairfax County health officials temporarily shut down Z Pizza on West Broad Street in Falls Church when, because of an ownership change, inspectors found it operating without the proper license. The pizza shop properly applied, passed, and is now back to making "the dough."

In Prince Georges County, officials shut down another roaming food truck, Divine Flavours, for operating without a permit.

 

If you know of ineffective government, dangers, or injustice, let us know by emailing tips@wusa9.com. If you'd like to be first to know about restaurant closings, follow Investigative Reporter Russ Ptacek at Twitter.com/russptacek or Facebook.com/russptacek.

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