MOUNT VERNON — Henry’s at The Curtis Inn has closed in order to make renovations in its kitchen and bar facilities.
“We are making renovations on the kitchen and bar,” explained Yogi Trivedi, one of the owners of the restaurant. “We will be reopened on the 23rd (of November).”
A hearing by the Knox County Board of Health had been scheduled at the request of Henry’s to determine whether the food service license of the restaurant should be revoked or suspended for what the health department characterized as numerous health violations. Henry’s voluntarily withdrew the request for the hearing and is making the renovations and correcting violations of the facilities. The restaurant was not closed by the health department, Trivedi said.
One point of contention between the restaurant has been food preparation techniques and procedure for ethnically prepared food. Some of these traditional methods for preparing ethnic food are seemingly at odds with Ohio laws pertaining to food safety. Henry’s serves traditional Indian food.
“The chefs have already gone to a food preparation course in Columbus,” Trivedi said. “But lots of things is the local (health) department are not used to things like this (ethnic food preparation techniques). Over in Columbus (the health department) is used to that kind of thing. We have explained that to them here. Some ethnic cooking has a different way of cooking the food. We both are compromising right now.”
According to Knox County Health Commissioner Dennis Murray, the code is the code and there is no compromising with it.
This was confirmed by Kent Bradley an inspector with the Franklin County Board of Health. Franklin County has many more ethnic restaurants than Knox County but even so there is very little room for compromise in a situation where traditional ethnic food preparation techniques do not conform with sanitary code.
“The short answer is no,” Bradley said. “If they are violating the code, they are violating the code. There may be some instances where you can modify what they are doing that would bring them in to code.”
Bradley gave an example of a situation where culture and code collided and an alternative method was found to keep both parties happy. He said he had inspected an African restaurant making a native bread that was put on woven mats to cool. These mats could not be cleaned and sanitized properly and were a violation. The restaurant contended they could not put the bread on smooth, stainless steel surfaces they had because the bread would stick. Bradley went to a local restaurant supply store and found some no-stick surfaces that could be used by the restaurant instead of the mats. These were smooth and could be cleaned and sanitized in compliance with the sanitary code.
There are still instances where actual preparation methods cannot be compromised and restaurants are required to use prepartion methods that do comply with sanitary code even if it means preparing food in a non-traditional method.
The Knox County Health Department is not commenting on the situation at this time on advice from Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Springer of the Knox County Prosecutor’s Office who represents the board’s legal interests.