State closes GC Perkins

MONICA PRYTS | Allied NewsThe state Department of Agriculture closed the Grove City Perkins on Tuesday after food safety inspectors determined that remodeling was interfering with sanitation.

UPDATE: The restaurant reopened over the weekend. It was inspected again on Friday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

GROVE CITY — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture ordered the temporary closure Tuesday of Perkins Restaurant and Bakery on West Main Street after a food safety inspector determined that a remodeling project was interfering with sanitation.

Shannon Powers, press secretary for the state Department of Agriculture, said the agency can close a restaurant when there is an “imminent risk to human health,” such as a risk of food contamination.

The restaurant, which remained closed as of Friday, was undergoing construction in the kitchen above a food preparation area, which Powers said interfered with the restaurant’s ability to serve food safely.

Campbells Land Co. Inc., based in Monroeville, Pa., owns the restaurant, located at 915 W. Main St., Grove City. The company bought Perkins and 27 of the chain’s other restaurants in a bankruptcy auction in January 2018.

As of Wednesday, Powers said the department had not received any complaints from patrons about the restaurant. The Department of Agriculture will re-inspect the restaurant before it can reopen.

Powers said that the Department of Agriculture could not confirm a date for reopening.

There could be fines or penalties if there are “ongoing issues” that are not corrected, but the department works closely with restaurants to educate owners and employees about safe practices, she said.

On Wednesday, there was a “closed by order” post on the restaurant door signed by Adam Keck, a food sanitarian. The sign indicated that Perkins is temporarily closed for “gross facility and equipment sanitation.”

A woman who answered the phone number Wednesday at Perkins said restaurant officials would not comment on the closure. A few people working outside the restaurant on Wednesday afternoon declined comment, and a call to the media relations department at Perkins corporate office in Memphis, Tenn., was not returned.

A report from the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services shows that the inspector found problems Tuesday during a regularly-scheduled inspection.

The report indicates the restaurant is “out of compliance” with a number of issues.

Violations included an accusation that “the person in charge did not demonstrate adequate knowledge of the Pennsylvania Food Code, as evidenced by incorrect responses to food safety questions.”

The inspection indicated that food preparation areas, including nozzles on the juice dispenser, were contaminated and that exposed construction debris had been in an area where it could fall into food.

About 400 tiles were missing from the floor of food preparation areas, which prevented water from reaching floor drains, and the restaurant had failed to maintain the plumbing system.

The renovation project itself was a problem because Perkins’ management had failed to submit documentation of plans for what the Department of Agriculture called major remodeling.

Perkins management also has problems with facility and employee qualification permits. The inspection indicated that Perkins had failed to renew its retail food facility license and that an employees “certified food manager” certificate had expired.

The inspection report concluded that Perkins was out of compliance with the Department of Agricultural retail food regulations.

“Currently the conditions of the facility are grossly unsanitary with a high risk of possible food adulteration during food preparation and storage.”