The Roanoke City Market Building and its 10 restaurants are about an 8-minute walk from my office. I eat there twice a week at least. I’ve never looked at the Virgina Department of Health’s inspection reports for those restaurants, even though I have link to the search in the DataSphere.
I guess I preferred my ignorance of how clean the building is.
But over the weekend the building was shut down because of a rodent problem found by health inspectors. Details are thin at this point on exactly what inspectors found. Actual rodents? Droppings? What kind of rodent? And where?! One shudders at the possbilities.
Now, curious, I’ve been looking at past inspection reports online, and thought it worthwhile to remind you, gentle reader, that you can do the same on the VDH website. There’s a search box on the left side. I searched on the word “market” to get a list that included all of the restaurants in the market building. You can click down to details of the violations cited in each inspection. Some are as recent as last month. Others go back to December.
Rather than summarize the results for 10 different vendors, I’ll let you see what’s there for yourself. You’ll find violations for pretty much all of them at some point.
Some of the violations will be called “critical.” But I encourage you to read what the actual violations are, and to check out their definitions. You hear the word “critical,” and you think of Band Aids in sandwiches and roaches in salads. But more often those critical violations have to do with proper storage of food with regard to temperature, or things like food workers drinking from soda cups with no lids in the food preparation area.
To be sure, there are disgusting things documented among the critical violations, but not every critical violation is something so horrifying as to make you nauseous.
That said, you might also consider not only quality, but quantity. What if a restaurant has not a couple of critical violations, but, say, ten? (And, in fact, one restaurant — Zorba’s, where the Jamaica Joe’s special is one of my favorites — did have 10 during an August inspection.)
And then there’s rodents. Yeah, I think that meets my definition of critical.
None of this covers the latest inspection which prompted the building’s closure. Again, what was found — and where?
In the urge to assess blame, those things matter.
With ten vendors in one space, can you single out those at fault, or are they all partly responsible? And don’t forget the building’s owner and management — the city of Roanoke. What is the the city’s responsibility in all of this? Can the city totally shift blame to the tenants, when the building is under its oversight? Or vice versa?
Before deciding that, let’s see what this latest report says. Keep watching roanoke.com for that.