This might be the most frustrating powerwashing ever.
Last week, Sauce Bar & Burgers got slapped with a county health department consumer alert in part because its coolers “were not maintaining proper temperature.”
But four days later, the health department withdrew the alert and once again put a green “inspected and permitted” sticker back on Sauce’s window.
What changed in those four days?
It seems that after Sauce’s cleaning service performed its regularly scheduled powerwashing last week, they forgot to plug one of the coolers back in, according to Dawn Taylor, Sauce’s daytime manager. The county health department stopped in for a standard inspection and noticed that one of the coolers was too warm.
“This was the cooler where we store lemonade and things like that,” Taylor said. “I’ve worked in restaurants for 40 years, and this is the cleanest restaurant I’ve ever worked at.”
In other words, the health department summary last week mentioned “presence of insects, rodents, other animals.” That referred to fruit flies found in an unused basement toilet room. That problem was fixed by the time the inspector came returned.
If you’re curious, you can see inspection reports for every restaurant in Allegheny County here. But before you freak out over the fact that almost every restaurant has been in violation of some inspection point at one time for another, keep in mind that your own kitchen at home probably wouldn’t pass a health department inspection.
So now, Sauce’s front window again bears the health department’s “inspected and permitted sticker.” Everything is back to normal now, except for customer traffic, which declined noticeably since last week.
Health department consumer alerts are a nightmare for restaurants. Media outlets love to cover restaurant consumer alerts and people love to share them on Facebook. But almost nobody writes follow-up stories when the warning is withdrawn.
Since opening in 2008, Sauce has become one of Bridgeville’s destination restaurants—places that people from outside the community will travel to experience. (Burg’s Pizza & Wing and Shouf’s Cafe are some others that come to mind). Sauce routinely gets mentioned on lists of Pittsburgh’s best burgers.
[Updated at 4:45 p.m. to provide greater detail regarding the health department’s comments and analysis].