Bob Taylor has managed restaurants for 38 years, but never one inside a 370,000-square-foot events center.
The restaurant he manages inside the Grand Park Events Center occupies only a small part of that space, but it presents challenges most restaurants don’t encounter.
Three months ago, the cafeteria-style restaurant was cited for an array of food violations ranging from non-critical to critical. One violation included mouse droppings found near the dish area of the restaurant, but others were as minor as two French fries found on the floor under a counter.
Since the occurrence, Westfield Restaurant Group and Grand Park have invested in measures to keep the mice out, and apparently, they’ve been successful, with no recurring violations.
“We are basically in the middle of a 400-acre cornfield,” Taylor said. “This (mouse prevention) is not something we can ever let up on.”
Traps were placed outside the building and certain areas were secured, such as filling in exposure around piping.
Developer Birch Dalton, of Edgerock Development, said the problem stems from loading doors at the events center being open for long periods of time as equipment is set up prior to events, not overall restaurant uncleanliness.
“You have to compare it to Lucas Oil, Banker’s Life and the state fair,” Dalton said. “When you have big buildings and lot of openings, there’s lots of people coming and going all the time.”
According to ESPN, Lucas Oil was cited for 42 critical food violations in 2009, which led to inspections being completed 11 days prior to a game.
As far as other inspection violations at Westfield Restaurant Group, food items were found expired. Taylor said this is a learning curve the restaurant is working on, as Westfield Restaurant Group does not operate seven days a week like a typical restaurant. Most of the inspection violations are attributed to the restaurant’s downtime issue, according to Taylor.
Taylor said he and his team are now being preemptive. If a period of downtime is upcoming, some food may need to be pitched even if it hasn’t expired yet, but will be by the time the restaurant reopens.
The city released the following statement regarding the violations.
“The city is engaged in a temporary agreement that is month-to-month with the Westfield Restaurant Group at this time. Since these health inspection reports have come to the attention of the administration, the contracts are being heavily reviewed. Grand Park is a state-of-the-art facility that hosts tournaments and events from all over the country and these violations are not acceptable.”