One operator says inspector was ‘nitpicking’

GETZVILLE, NY (WIVB) - The owners of John and Mary’s subs on Millersport Highway in Getzville are not happy about their last Erie County Health Department inspection.

“I felt we were being picked on,” said Romy Stefano, one of the owners of the family business.  She takes issue with some of the violations the Health Department cited last month.

Inspectors found 1 critical and 13 non-critical violations, which include things like grease on ground near grease barrels, employee hand wash sink not draining and cook not wearing hair restraint.

The owners say those things are being addressed but they have questions about some other violations such as one involving food dressing dispensing bottles not labeled.  Specifically, Stefano says,  mustard and ketchup bottles on the counter for customers.

“Fourty-two and a half years we’ve been here now and I’ve never once heard that that was a violation,” according to Stefano.  “Yellow is mustard. Red is ketchup. It’s pretty simple. And she wrote us up because it did not say, the bottle did not say, ketchup and mustard.”

Mark Kowalski of the Erie County Health Department says the violation was citing salad dressing bottles in the preparation area not mustard and ketchup bottles in the dining area.

The business also got slapped with a critical violation for spray bottles with cleaning agents not labeled.

“The toxic chemical in question is dish soap,” Stefano added.  “She wanted soap written on it.  So, at the time I just grabbed a magic marker and I wrote the word ‘soap’.  I says ‘Is that okay?’,  and she said ‘Yeah that’s good’.”

The bottle is at the sink for dish washing, and now has a printed label on it, according to the owners.  “We wouldn’t want a worker to pick a bottle up, and using it containing soap, and use it as an ingredient in food,” Kowalski says.

“Maybe they should all get on the same page. One thing that’s a violation one year may not be a violation the next year,” Stefano adds.  “I felt like she was nitpicking,” Stefano insists.

But Kowalski says that’s not the case.  “We are not out picking on any facility.  The inspectors go there, conduct an inspection, evaluate it, document their violations and issue them their notice,” he says. “If there are items that they wish to discuss further with the inspector I encourage them to do so.”

The restaurant also got hit with a violation for containers of food on the floor.  Several cases of chicken wings were just delivered and placed on the floor in a walk-in cooler, according to the restaurant.

The cases were opened promptly and placed in double bin containers,  Stefano tells News 4 Investigates.

“Within two minutes of him putting the wings in the cooler she wrote us for having food improperly stored on the floor,” she says.

Kowalski says inspectors are trained to follow the health code, and point out when it’s not being followed.

“It should not have been on the floor,” Kowalski argues.

He says the floor of the cooler is not kept at a sanitary standard as other surfaces in the facility.

“And once set on the floor, especially in these winter conditions, a cross contamination from the bottom of that container to other surfaces in the facility are significant.”

In the meantime, the owners of John and Mary’s in Getzville are waiting for the Health Department to conduct a re-inspection so the record will reflect the list of corrections made since the last inspection.

“I’ve been in restaurants that I see that are dirty, and I think our place is very clean,” Romy Stefano says.

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