There are a whopping 118 comments (so far) on a story in The Portland Press Herald that quotes Maine Restaurant Association President Dick Grotton as saying more restaurants are failing because "the inspection process has changed." What he's referring to is stricter enforcement of the health code since the city hired health inspector Michele Sturgeon in August 2011; prior to that, inspections were done by Planning Dept. code officers. "It's different. We need to catch up, and it's going to take time," Grotton told the PPH, noting that restaurants are now "being cited for facility issues, such as not having a covered trash receptacle in the ladies room" and "that the city should concentrate on critical violations that could lead to illness." Ever-pragmatic Jason Loring, chef/co-owner of Nosh and Taco Escobarr also weighed in:
I definitely think they're holding us to higher standards, because they're actually doing inspections now, where before they weren't really doing them, Loring said. I don't really have a problem with it. It's all about safety.
The story also cites details from failed inspection reports from the past year, including Petite Jacqueline, which Sturgeon failed twice, Otto's Pizza in the Arts District (someone complained about an employee's sweat dripping into the dough) and Koi Asian Bistro(failed twice).
We do feel (Sturgeon) is taking a harder path than her predecessors, [Petite Jacqueline co-owner and GM Elizabeth] Koenigsberg said. We feel this is beneficial to the city, especially moving forward. But it does pose a challenge on a day-to-day basis for restaurants that have been around for years.There's a side bar listing Portland restaurants, whether they passed or failed, with a link to the actual inspection report.
[Photo: Festiva Resorts Portland blog]