Business

Which Columbia-area restaurants were repeat offenders during 2018 inspections?

How DHEC decides whether a restaurant gets an ‘A’ or a ‘C’

DHEC conducts inspections — what it calls a “snapshot in time” of retail food establishments’ employee behavior and preparation practices — annually or quarterly depending on the establishment’s food processes and compliance history.
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DHEC conducts inspections — what it calls a “snapshot in time” of retail food establishments’ employee behavior and preparation practices — annually or quarterly depending on the establishment’s food processes and compliance history.

From roaches to mysterious build-up, restaurant inspectors across the Midlands found a litany of violations throughout the year.

While a number of restaurants in the Columbia-area scored low on health inspection reports in 2018, a few were repeat offenders, according to an analysis of S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control records.

  • Massey’s Past Time Cafe, Sumter St. in Columbia

During 2018, Massey’s was awarded 13 C’s on both routine and follow-up inspections throughout the year, according to DHEC records.

The first of the low grades was given in early June when, during a routine inspection, health department employees found containers of raw meats being stored in the ice machine, roaches and flies in the kitchen and a white clog in a drain by the ice maker, among other things, according to the inspection report. Afterward, the cafe did recover, receiving three A’s on follow-up inspections in June.

In July, the restaurant was given a B after roaches were spotted in the facility and inspectors found an accumulation of grease. From there, the restaurant mostly failed to get back on its feet for most of the year during routine inspections in July, September, October and November.

During its last inspection on Nov. 19, Massey’s scored a 93 on a follow-up, which is still a C. Inspectors once again found roaches throughout the facility and a grease buildup inside of a fryer.

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  • Tao Asian Fusion & Bar, Columbiana Drive in Columbia

Over the summer, Tao Asian Fusion was given two C’s: one during a routine inspection and another during a follow-up.

The Harbison restaurant was given it’s initial C after scoring a 72 during a June 27 inspection, according to DHEC records. Inspectors found employees preparing food without washing their hands, raw chicken juices and pieces in a pan of raw beef and a freezer hat was not keeping food at the correct temperature, among other things.

During a follow-up a few days later, the restaurant scored an 87 after inspectors found employees using utensils that touched raw chicken on other foods, employees reusing gloves and knives being stored between “soiled exteriors” of prep coolers.

Since then, Tao Asian Fusion has scored all A’s on follow-up and routine inspections.

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  • 2 Gingers, Bush River Road in Columbia

During their first inspections of the year, 2 Gingers was awarded two C’s in quick succession, according to DHEC records.

After the first inspection on July 23, the restaurant was given a 76 percent. Inspectors found fly tape directly over food prep areas, food stored directly on the floor, standing water in the storage area and numerous items in disrepair, according to the inspection report.

During a follow-up inspection a few days later, 2 Gingers was given an 88 percent, which is still a C. Employees were found preparing bread with bare hands and various foods were stored at incorrect temperatures, according to the report.

For the rest of the year, 2 Gingers was awarded all A’s.

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  • Zorba’s of St. Andrews, St. Andrews Road in Columbia

Zorba’s kicked off their season after being awarded a 75 or a C during a July 12 inspection, according to DHEC records.

During the inspection, health department employees found employees touching raw meats and handling ready to eat food, undercooked meats not properly separated on the grill and an employee dipping tongs he as using into soiled water, according to the inspection report. During a follow up a few days later, the restaurant scored a 91, which is still a C.

Inspectors found employees cutting food without gloves on their hands and food not kept at the proper temperature, according to the report.

After the two poor scores, the restaurant scored three A’s.

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The following restaurants scored a C on health inspection reports in 2018:

Lexington County:

  • Cecilia’s Mexican Restaurant in Columbia
  • Comfort Suites in Columbia
  • El Jimador Mexican Restaurant in Lexington
  • Flaming Grill Supreme Buffet in Columbia
  • Food Trailer Cecilia in Columbia
  • Golden Dragon in Columbia
  • Goodfellas in Lexington
  • IGA in Gilbert
  • La Fogata in West Columbia
  • Levi’s Lakehouse in Lexington
  • Mizter Browns Foods in Columbia
  • Nicks Gyros & Grill in Columbia
  • Persis in Columbia
  • Red Robin in Columbia
  • Smothie King in Irmo
  • Subway in Chapin
  • Tacos Locos & Grill in West Columbia
  • U.S. Wings & Deli in Columbia
  • Veer Mart in Gilbert
  • Wild Wing Cafe in Columbia

Richland County:

  • Chopstix Chinese in Columbia
  • Delhi Palace in Columbia
  • DHEC building Canteen in Columbia
  • Express China in Columbia
  • Fast Eddies Calzones in Columbia
  • Jims Hibachi & Chinese in Columbia
  • Lena B in Blythewood
  • My House in Columbia
  • Nicks Gyros in Columbia
  • Pho Viet in Columbia
  • Quick Stop in Columbia
  • Scotties Cafe and Grill in Blythewood
  • Size Matters BBQ in Columbia
  • Subway in Columbia

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Emily Bohatch is a breaking news reporter for The State. She also updates The State’s databases. Her accomplishments include winning a Green Eyeshade award in Disaster Reporting in 2018 for her teamwork reporting on Hurricane Irma. She has a degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish from Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.


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