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Little-Known Rule May Endanger Outside Seating

The patio at Sebago Brewing Company Photo: TripAdvisor

Portland's lone health inspector, Michelle Sturgeon, is tightening the screws on the city's more than 800 restaurants, according to a story in The Forecaster. Sturgeon was brought on board a year ago to fill a a new position "created to strengthen the public safety aspect of restaurant inspections," concurrent with the city changing its inspection system from a numbered system to pass/fail.

Now, to pass inspection, a restaurant can incur up to 13 code violations, no more than three of which can be deemed critical. Some violations may be resolved on the spot; for critical violations, Sturgeon returns within a week or two to check if they've been fixed.
The biggest surprise to many restaurant owners has been the absurd rule that all seating areas must be screened. This means the indoor-outdoor spaces created by "garage-style" doors are a no-no unless the opening has a screen, as well as all outdoor dining areas. "You can't screen an outside deck. It would be impossible," said Steve DeMillo of DeMillo's On The Water, who was interviewed for the story. DeMillo, chairman of the board of the Maine Restaurant Association, also said that if cited for not screening his patio, he would "solicit the state to change the rule."

· No Open Door Policy: Code Violations Surprise Portland Restaurants [TF]