Every year, the Oklahoma Department of Health inspects Tahlequah restaurants to ensure that diners have safe places to eat. Many local businesses received top grades, while others show areas for improvement. But no Tahlequah restaurant has been shut down by safety inspectors this year.
“During inspections, we want to ensure that restaurants and other food retailers are following safe food handling procedures. We try to focus on the five CDC risk factors, which include: food from unsafe sources, improper cold/hot holding temperatures, poor personal hygiene, inadequate cooking, and contaminated equipment. These risk factors are most commonly reported to the CDC as contributing factors in food-borne illness outbreaks,” said Kristina Milroy, supervising public health specialist.
In the past year, Tahlequah restaurants that received no violations include: Amped Nutrition, Black & Tan Coffee on Downing, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chicken Express, Domino’s Pizza, Double Barrel BBQ, Drake’s Kitchen, El Molcajete, El Vaquero, Frech Mexican Grill, Grand China Buffet, Jenny’s Mexican Food, Pizza By Manooch, Simple Simon’s, Subway on Muskogee Avenue, Sugar Shack, Snow and Ice, Sunrise Donuts, Sweet Arts Bake House, Tiki Treats, and Vidalia’s.
Restaurants that received fewer than four minor violations include: Amborsio Luz Melo, Apex Cinema, Burger King, Carl’s Junior, Casey’s General Store on Muskogee Avenue, Chick-Fil-A, Jose’s Mexican Restaurant, Linney Breaux’s, Moe’s BBQ, My Place Barbeque, Napoli’s, NSU Food Court, NSU Pizza Hut Express, Pasti Italian Grill, Rafa’s Burrito Co., Ruby’s, Sugar Mommas Bakery, Taco Bell, Tatted Pig BBQ, and The Soda Fountain.
Restaurants with more than four minor violations, and no violations causing foodborne illness, are: Asian Star, Boom-A-Rang, Braum’s, Bryant’s Daylight Donuts, Charlie’s Chicken, The Grill, Katfish Kitchen, Kawi Café, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Lift Coffee Bar, Little Caesar’s, Mazzio’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Morgan’s Bakery, the new Start4U Nutrition, Pauline’s Out West Café, Pizza Hut, Presley’s Burgers, Red Moon, Rollie Pollie, Sonic Drive In, Subway on Downing, Subway on Muskogee, and Subway in Walmart.
Restaurants with a foodborne violation include: Arby’s, Black & Tan on Muskogee Avenue, The Branch, Buendia Café, Cantina Bravo, Casey’s General Store on Downing, Chili’s, Del Rancho, El Zarape, Fish’s BBQ, Jimmy’s Egg, Kagumi Hibatchi Express, Kroner & Baer, Las Maracas, New China Super Buffet, Newk’s Eatery, Rib Crib, Sam & Ella’s, Southside Drive In, Starbucks, and Taco Bueno.
When a restaurant does not receive a perfect grade, the inspector will offer the establishment areas for improvement.
“A big part of a health inspector’s job is to educate ownership, management and other staff about safe health practices when handling food. We work with the restaurant to make corrective actions and to regain managerial control. If we are unable to correct the violations, further enforcement may be required,” said Milroy.
The department’s protocol follow CDC recommendations, and keeping up on current changes regarding COVID-19. This has included wearing a mask, observing social distancing when possible and frequently washing hands throughout the inspection.
The inspection includes other institutions that are not defined as restaurants, but are operating stores, preparing, packaging, serving, and vending food directly to the consumer.