Would you eat there?

Health Department inspects local eateries.
Krystle Wagner
Mar 9, 2013


Moldy food, flies and ants were among some of the violations health inspectors flagged during routine inspections of area eateries in the past 17 months.

Inspectors found a total of 4,187 violations during 2,286 inspections of 682 food establishments in the county during the past inspection year, said Spencer Ballard, Food Safety Team supervisor with the Ottawa County Health Department.

To see the complete list of area restaurants and their number of violations, CLICK HERE.

For the complete inspection report, CLICK HERE.

The inspections serve as a check to ensure restaurants are following the law and that the public’s health is protected. Ballard said residents should keep in mind that an inspection is a snapshot in time.

“Restaurants have good and bad days, just like people,” he said. “To properly evaluate a restaurant’s compliance, multiple inspections are needed.”

Establishments open year-round are inspected about once every six months, while seasonal establishments operating nine months or less are inspected once per season.

During the visits, inspectors walk through kitchens, ask questions about practices and note items such as food temperatures and sanitation measures.

In Northwest Ottawa County a total of 1,490 violations were found at 153 establishments since October 2011. Six kitchens kept a spotless record with no violations, while inspectors found 13 eateries that had 21 or more violations.

Restaurant owners say they must continually keep up on health standards, and train their team members accordingly. This can be a daunting task for some restaurants, especially those that require an influx of seasonal workers.

Steve Loftis, owner of Harbor Restaurants, noted that since 2000, there have been four changes to Michigan Health Code laws.

“Each time a new variation or regulation is enacted, both health inspectors and restaurants must be re-educated and adjust to the new standards,” he said.

Another challenge Loftis said he faces is that inspection rules can be vague or interpreted differently.

Loftis said one inspector may find a certain procedure is a violation while another sees it within regulations. He said a constant infusion of new inspectors unfamiliar with equipment and operations doesn’t help.

When Dee-Lite Bar & Grill was inspected on June 19, 2012, the health inspector noted violations such as employees drinking a beverage without a lid on it and tomatoes stored at 41 degrees. The restaurant was hit with 16 violations.

Loftis said a law had changed eight weeks prior regarding storage temperatures, and they hadn’t been notified.

“There is always something that we can be cited for,” he said. “This is true of every restaurant. However, we have had inspections where we were not cited for a single thing.”

When Anthony’s Kicked Up Catering began four years ago, they also faced numerous violations.

Anthony Gonnella, the establishment’s owner, said one of the hurdles they had to overcome involved making sure that the fresh foods they use in their meals are used within five days.

Gonnella said they worked with the health department to create logs to document food purchases and usage.

Additionally, they brought in a retired health inspector to provide guidance, and re-staffed the business. Once they did that, Gonnella said they saw violations start to come down, and even received a violation-free inspection in the fall.

Another example of how seriously restaurants take food safety is how the Grand Haven location of Butch’s Beach Burritos achieved zero violations in its June 11, 2012, inspection.

The eatery’s Spring Lake location, however, was cited for a violation on Oct. 24, 2012, when the inspector found “greenish mold growth” in a walk-in cooler.

When problems arise, Jim Thayer, owner of both establishments, said he works quickly to correct issues and train employees to ensure food safety.

Thayer said keeping the restaurants safe and clean comes down to knowing the proper procedures for cooking times, temperatures and keeping sanitation.

“We take food safety very seriously,” Thayer said. “We go the extra mile.”

Whether it’s weekly or daily meetings, following cleaning checklists, or providing additional training, the restaurant owners said they make sure their employees know and understand the importance of regulations.

Loftis said his restaurants also use inspection reports for further training to ensure that team members understand what the violation was and train them so it isn’t repeated.

When violations are found and corrections need to be made, Thayer said they correct the problem as quickly as possible.

“If an inspector can point out how to do certain things better, I’m all ears,” he said.





Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Libel and defamation.


What a pointless article! The health dept violations are already public record.What good is this article doing for anybody?Not much real research or insight to any real danger posed to the public.Maybe if there were numerous outbreaks of food borne illness,mass food poisoning,or infestations of vermin,but just listing violations without any explanation of the health code is worthless!I can think of 5 better stories to publish offering REAL information about danger to the public.Shame on the GHT for posting such a lame article!

Magic Mike

Then what is a danger to the public? My kids and I eat out all of the time. We like knowing what is a safe place and what isn't. Having someone bring this to the forefront is a great thing for our community. How many people do you know regularly contact the health department for this information? I like having it brought to my attention.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Libel and defamation.


Being that I work in the restaurant industry I feel this was a great article. People should know these things without having to research. I'm happy to say where I work now did not make it on the "violators list" due to the fact that we put the time and effort in to keeping everything up to code on a daily basis, no excuses unlike Steve Loftis's in this article. Jackassery would find this a "pointless article" considering he is the head chef at the Dee-Lite which also had more violations than any other restaurant. The Tribune went easy on these stores they should have wrote about the critical's and how bad it actually is.


"Head chef at the Dee-Lite?" That wins the award for oxymoron of the day!


Dang, I need to offer up an apology for my comment above. I got my restaurants confused and said Dee-Lite when I was actually thinking of another local diner. My experiences at the Dee-Lite have always been positive.

The dancing bear

I remember when you worked there... 3 violations on the last report were directly related to your ignorance.Good luck at the new place. with people like you working,they're sure to have many future violations!

The dancing bear

Yes You NWV!


didn't you get fired from DEE-Lite because you were responsible for violations during the last inspection?The only reason the place you work now hasn't had any violations,is because they just opened!

I need to ask

If you read the inspections for the Dee-lite then anyone would think these are no brainers. These simple mistakes should easily fixed. But....38 total???
These are not infractions that would change monthly or even yearly......just simple sterilization issues.

Ottawa County P...

Ottawa County Public Health and restaurants, working together towards greater public health . . . Read more – Letter to Grand Haven Tribune Editor. http://ow.ly/j2nls


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