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Behind the Kitchen Door

Restaurant reopening inspections not required, despite health department guidance

Black & Gold Tavern posted signs reminding customers to social distance.
Black & Gold Tavern posted signs reminding customers to social distance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services is updating its guidance for businesses following an ABC 17 News investigation.

According to the department’s business guidance for Reopening Phase 2, Step 2, restaurants that voluntarily closed during the COVID-19 pandemic were required to go through a reopening inspection. Bars also needed an inspection.

"If you have chosen to close your restaurant and want to re-open, you must first contact the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services Division of Environmental Health to conduct an inspection of your facility," the guidance read.

However, according to the health department, reopening inspections were not required.

"That was an error. It shouldn't have been that way," said Scott Clardy, the assistant director at PHHS. "We certainly we don't have any way to require them to do a reopening inspection because it's not in the food code."

Because facilities voluntarily closed, the assistant director said they did not actually suspend any establishment permits. Reinstating a permit is what triggers a required inspection.

"It's important to realize that facilities closed voluntarily; we did not suspend any permits, so no permits had to be reinstated," Clardy said. However, Clardy said "numerous" establishments contacted PHHS for re-inspections.

Here is a list of the 69 Boone County establishments that were specifically listed as having completed reopening or regular COVID-19 inspections since May 1:

  • The 5th Down Bar & Grill
  • The Amber House
  • American Legion Post 202
  • Auntie Anne’s
  • Barnes & Noble Cafe
  • Billiards
  • Black and Gold
  • Bob Evans
  • Bur Oak Brewing Co., LLC
  • Burger King (Business Loop 70 and Clark Lane locations)
  • The Buzz Cafe
  • Campus Bar & Grill
  • Charley’s Steakery
  • Cheddar’s
  • Chili’s
  • Chinese Wok Express
  • Chris McD’s
  • Country Club of Missouri/pool house concession
  • Cracker Barrel
  • D’ Rowes
  • Dos Arcos
  • El Jimador
  • El Rancho
  • Elk’s Lodge
  • Ernie’s
  • Freddy’s Frozen Custard
  • G & D Pizza & Steak
  • Great American Cookie
  • Gunter Hans
  • Harpo’s
  • Hog Haven BBQ
  • Hole in the Wall
  • Holiday Inn Select banquet
  • Honey Baked Ham
  • Hoss’s Market and Rotisserie
  • International Cafe
  • International Tap House
  • Jake’s
  • Jazz Louisiana Kitchen
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs (Worley Street and Grindstone locations)
  • Kampai Sushi
  • Klik’s
  • Kobe Japanese Steakhouse
  • The Language Tree
  • Les Bourgeois
  • Level Up
  • On the Rocks
  • Panera (Columbia Mall location)
  • Papa’s Cat Cafe
  • Park
  • The Pasta Factory
  • Patric Chocolate
  • Pho Quan Viet Cuisine
  • Range Free
  • The Roof
  • Room 38
  • Rumor’s Cabaret
  • Silverball
  • Snapper’s
  • Sports Zone
  • Starbucks (Ninth Street and Nifong Boulevard locations)
  • Station House @ Katfish Katy’s
  • Sycamore
  • TGI Friday’s
  • Uprise Bakery
  • Willie's

Several other establishments have had inspections since May 1, but they were not identified as COVID-19 inspections. You can find the full list of inspections here.

Clardy said the health department will be reviewing and possibly revising the wording of the business guidance so that it agrees with the health orders.

Lucio Bitoy IV, a spokesman for the health department, said inspectors help educate businesses if there is a problem that needs to be remedied.

“If that is unsuccessful, we work with the city/county attorney to determine the next steps,” Bitoy said. As of June 18, he said the department had not had to forward any establishments to attorneys.

Black & Gold, a Columbia tavern, had its inspection on May 26.

Owner Lori Matheney said at times it was difficult for the business to actually know what was required.

“My mom, I kind of had her on it. She was like 'Hey, you can open, but there's guidelines,'" Matheny said. "And then she was actually the one that said 'you have got to get ahold of the health department, though, because they're going to do an inspection.’”

Inspection notes detail precautions Black & Gold was required to take when opening:

  • Tables 6 feet apart
  • Cleaning jukebox and boxing machine between each use
  • Using bleach on tabletop and chairs
  • Patrons must go to tables after getting items at the bar
  • Sanitize high-touch services every two hours
  • Cans given to customers must be unopened
  • No self-service popcorn machine
  • Disposable cups for cocktails and drafts
  • Limit of 10 people at each table
  • Symptoms are posted on signs at each door

Some businesses had specific precautions similar to the ones above, while most establishments were labeled simply “Reopening inspection after COVID” in the section for comments on inspection reports.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, there is no current evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted through food. However, dining in any restaurant can help spread the virus. The CDC has guidelines for people wanting to go out to eat safely.

ABC 17 News Investigates / Boone / Business / Columbia / Columbia Video / Coronavirus / Food / News / Top Stories / Video
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Molly Stawinoga

Molly Stawinoga is ABC 17’s weekday morning anchor and a reporter at ABC 17 News. Molly joined the news team in 2017 while studying political science, journalism and Spanish at the University of Missouri. She is originally from DeKalb, Illinois.

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