In a long Facebook post earlier this month, Bada Bing food truck owner Nicholas Terzella announced he was closing up shop, partially blaming the Arlington County government for not properly updating him on new sprinkler system requirements.
However, county officials say there were several outreach efforts once commercial hood suppression systems became mandatory in mobile food units on November 6, 2016, according to both Kim Brunette, an environmental health supervisor with the county public health protection bureau and Ben O’Bryant, an Arlington County Fire Department Fire/EMS Captain and spokesman.
The outreach efforts included “soft inspections” to local mobile food units, more commonly called food trucks, to check in with business owners with safety compliance without taking punitive measures, according to the county.
Educational flyers were also distributed to mobile food unit owners, informing them of the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code requirements and the National Fire Protection Association. The updates were also available online.
From ACFD Capt. O’Bryant:
The Arlington Fire Code requirement for commercial hood suppression systems in Mobile Food Units (MFU) became effective on November 6, 2016 with the Arlington County Board’s adoption of the 2012 Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code (SFPC) and Chapter 8.1 local amendments.
In the two years prior (2015-2016), the fire department participated in “soft” non-punitive inspections as a combined effort with Public Health during the annual license renewal inspection period. These safety inspections were intended to help educate MFU operators on the 2012 SFPC requirements. Informational flyers were provided to MFU operators based on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards and SFPC requirements. This information was also posted on the fire department’s public website.
Enforcement of the code requirements began during the July 2017 licensing period. We continue to work collaboratively with Public Health, performing joint annual inspections to provide the most efficient and convenient service for MFU operators.
Arlington County only lists online the inspections records for currently licensed, operational food trucks, so inspection records for Bada Bing are no longer on the website.
Terzella additionally blamed other food truck owners for their “almost restaurant sized” vehicles, and specifically called out Loopy’s Eatery food truck owner who he called Tex. Food truck registration records in Alexandria, Va., list Teak Shin as the food truck’s primary contact.
An Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman said that any parking violation citations for area food trucks would be lumped in reports with other commercial and passenger vehicles, but that there wasn’t a record of a criminal report filed detailing accusations similar to the Nicholas Terzella’s accusation that Loopy’s owner tried selling a parking space.
To our customers. We can’t put into words how much joy these last eight years of serving you has given us. Though I have…
A man who answered the listed phone number for Bada Bing food truck hung up after an ARLnow.com reporter called for comment. Three voicemails left for a number listed for Loopy’s Eatery, with a voicemail box identified as belonging to a man named Tex, went unanswered.
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Columbia Pike burrito spot Pedro and Vinny’s reopened yesterday after having its food establishment license revoked last month.
The restaurant reopened after re-applying for its food establishment license, as allowed by Arlington County Code. Arlington’s health department found Pedro and Vinny’s had “a pattern of repeated violations… that significantly increased the risk of foodborne illness to patrons including improper holding temperatures of foods,” according to Arlington Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
An inspector revoked its food license last month when the temperature problems were not fixed. Larrick said DHS approved its new license yesterday, and inspectors will check on the restaurant’s compliance within 30 days,.
“It’s been a lesson, and we’ve learned from our mistakes,” Pedro and Vinny’s manager Richard Arnez said. “We’ve been doing a lot of remodeling, and a lot of the cleaning has been changed. It’s pretty much like brand new.”
The 13-day closure has not impacted the volume of customers patronizing Pedro and Vinny’s, Arnez said. “People are excited to come in, like before,” Arnez said.
The 2599 Columbia Pike location, owned by the food truck of the same name, has not changed its menu or hours, and continues to serve the burritos that earned it a spot on the Five Thirty Eight Burrito Bracket the same month as its closure.
“Our food is great, fresh, everything is good,” Arnez said. “So we’re good to go.”
Shortly after the market opens at 8:00 a.m, county board member Mary Hynes will host a ceremony honoring the founders of the market.
There will also be giveaways, kids’ activities, gardening demonstrations, and appearances by local chefs, who will be sharing cooking tips.
In the wake of several farmers market vendors being shut down by health inspectors two weeks ago, safety-minded county officials will also be distributing flyers to market customers and vendors.
The content of those flyers, after the jump.
ARLINGTON FARMER’S MARKETS: FRESH, LOCAL & SAFE!
- To safeguard public health, Arlington inspects all food establishments, including farmer’s markets, ensuring they comply with the 2005 FDA Food Code.
- Inspections at farmers markets include:
- Temperature control checks for perishable foods such as meats, cheeses and products made with eggs
- Proper packaging or covering checks for ready-to-eat (RTE) foods to prevent bare hand contact and other contamination
- Ingredient lists checks to warn people with food allergies
- Staff performing inspections receive standardized training about the FDA Food Code. Inspections are assigned in a random fashion for quality control.
- County staff work closely with farmer’s market vendors and management to help them get into compliance with the food code. This ensures that customers enjoy safe and wholesome foods and have a great Arlington farmer’s market experience.
HOW TO ENJOY FOOD FROM FARMER’S MARKETS SAFELY
- Wash fruits and vegetables before eating always.
- DON’T buy ready-to-eat foods that have been handled with bare hands. Ready-to-eat foods, such as baked goods, typically are not washed or cooked after purchase.
- Buy perishable foods only from vendors permitted by the health department.
- Perishable foods include meats, cheeses, and products made with eggs that have to be kept at proper temperatures to prevent germ growth.
- Look for a display of ingredients in ready-to-eat foods to avoid allergic reactions.
- For more information, call Evelyn Poppell, Public Health at 703-228-7400.
Update at 2:40 p.m. — A spokesperson for the county confirms that several vendors were shut down by Arlington health officials over the weekend. As a result of the closures coming to light, the county is “conducting a thorough review of both the action and the codes/policies that apply to farmers market food safety,” says Kurt Larrick of the Arlington County Department of Human Services.
An Arlington County health inspector busted a baker and a well-known local restaurant at the Arlington Farmers Market in Courthouse Saturday morning.
The Washington City Paper reports that the stand run by Maryland-based Atwater’s was shut down because its bread loaves were not individually-packaged.
Other stands were shut down as well, including a stand featuring free samples from Ballston’s Willow Restaurant.
Willow’s stand was shuttered by county officials because the restaurant did not pay the $150 in special event permit fees required to operate the stand, according to a person connected to the restaurant. Willow runs the stand as a public service and as a promotional vehicle — they don’t actually sell anything — and can’t afford to pay the fees week after week, our source says.