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Calgary restaurant accuses AHS of 'mishandling' inspection

Blowers & Grafton says the closure of its business was posted online on May 25, 2024, even though the establishment was shut down for only six hours due to an issue that was out of its control. Blowers & Grafton says the closure of its business was posted online on May 25, 2024, even though the establishment was shut down for only six hours due to an issue that was out of its control.
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A Calgary restaurant says a publicly posted closure order from Alberta Health Services (AHS) has caused "significant reputational damage" to its business and demands the agency to make amends.

Blowers & Grafton, which serves Halifax street food, said in a public letter that it received a closure notice at its Mission location following a routine inspection on May 22.

The business says the closure was related to a sewer backup in the area, which the inspector informed them about during the visit.

"The inspector mentioned that there was an apparent sewer backup in the area – particularly that there was a sewer backup in the adjacent business(es)," the letter said.

The restaurant says its staff was not aware of any sewer backup at that point and had not noticed any evidence of one in the building, but the health inspector "pointed out a very small area" that was believed to be part of the issue.

When that was discovered, staff asked the inspector if they could voluntarily close the business to fix the problem, but that request was denied.

The business says the inspection continued and AHS discovered a variety of other problems. They included issues with the dishwasher, sinks, cleaning procedures and food storage.

In its letter, Blowers & Grafton said all of the other problems were "routine occurrences in the daily business of a restaurant" and some even came as a surprise to them.

"The AHS inspector had never mentioned the lack of a two compartment sink in any previous inspections of the premises over the years," the letter said.

At the conclusion of the inspection, the business says it was told by the inspector that no report would be published online but on May 25, AHS posted such an order on its website.

Blowers & Grafton said "the notice incorrectly and wrongly suggested that the premises were closed for reasons other than the backup," which it said was out of its control.

"The notice was seen publicly online and then quickly disseminated and discussed on multiple social media outlets and forums. The following day, members of the news media wrote stories on the notice. B&G staff members have been attacked online personally. The news media continues to contact B&G about these events."

The closure order has since been rescinded, the restaurant says, but the damage has been done.

"This action has caused B&G losses," it said.

In response, Blowers & Grafton is calling on AHS to admit its error in posting the notice and confirm the restaurant was only closed for six hours following the discovery of the sewer backup, which the restaurant was not responsible for.

'Safety of patrons'

In a statement to CTV News, AHS said it would not be able to comment on any communications between counsel, but confirmed Blowers & Grafton was closed because of "health violations."

"The primary concern of environmental public health officials is to protect the safety of patrons. Concerns which warrant closure are detailed in any orders issued and reflect the observations of public health officials at the time of their inspections," AHS said in a statement.

"The ability to wash and sanitize dishes and equipment is imperative for safe operation of a restaurant. The combination of the three violations (dishwasher was not functioning, no ability to manually wash and sanitize due to lack of a two-compartment sink; and inability to plug a sink in order to fill it for proper washing) are collectively factors that would result in closure of a high-risk food facility."

The statement did not include any mention of sewage backup at the restaurant.

AHS said the restaurant was allowed to reopen after a follow-up inspection on May 23 found all of the critical violations were remedied.

The agency says the online closure order was removed as soon as possible after the written order was formally rescinded.

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