Stalvey's reopens after scoring 31

COVINGTON - Stalvey's Restaurant and Lounge on U.S. Highway 278 has reopened after voluntarily closing in reaction to receiving a 31 U on a recent food service inspection report.

The report, dated Dec. 16, lists five pages of violations, among them, food stored at improper temperatures; dirty utensils; failure of employees to wash hands; improper storage of food, such as raw steaks stored above raw fish and broccoli stored above raw pork chops; use of a dirty slicer with mold growing inside; and employees handling bread with bare hands.

Management closed the restaurant voluntarily to address the problems, and the restaurant has now reopened after receiving a 93 A score during a Thursday reinspection, said Vernon Goins, spokesman for the East Metro Health District.

The district typically shuts down establishments if they receive two consecutive unsatisfactory scores or if an immediate health hazard is discovered. Stalvey's passed its April inspection with an 87 B.

Owner Jim Stalvey said he "went way over, beyond the call of duty" to get most of the issues corrected within 22 hours.

"At no time was anybody's health in any kind of danger," he said.

A lot of the repairs, such as to floor tiles and carpeting, were needed because the building is old, Stalvey said.

He said there was one hand sink in the kitchen and he was required to install three more. So far, two have been installed and another will be soon, he said.

Another issue is the tough new inspection rules, he said.

"It's going to be very difficult for a restaurant to get an A," he said, but added, "As long as everybody has to follow the same rules, I don't have a problem with it. I've been in Covington 35 years ... We've never had anything to hide and still don't. Anybody who wants to walk back into the kitchen and see, they can."

But Stalvey admitted, "A lot of it is our fault. We had not cleaned the place up good when we had the busy party season."

Stalvey's reopened at 4 p.m. Thursday.

"I think we took our medicine like a man and we corrected the problem and now we're moving on," Stalvey said.

Health scores have been on a decline since new regulations went into effect in December 2007. Newton County health inspection scores dropped about 10 percent shortly after the new regulations were implemented, and all health districts in the state have seen a dip in inspection scores, according to Goins.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.