Most of us, at one point or another, have worked in the food service industry.
For better or worse, that job slinging burgers, drinks, or whatever, was (or in some cases is) a big part of our lives.
And with those days spent in the kitchen, waiting tables or behind the bar comes some fantastic and horrific stories of what went on behind the scenes at said eating establishment.
Every restaurant has a few minor problems. It just comes with that high-risk territory. A health inspector can walk into virtually any eatery and find something to write up. Or not write up.
I grew up reading the Jackson County health code violations in my old Examiner newspaper. Mostly, for entertainment purposes. And, of course, it was fun to see how many times Stephenson’s Restaurant would pop up in the text.
Later on, I would spend nearly three years at popular restaurant chain that serves burgers and shakes. I got to witness firsthand what a code inspector would and could do (we were shut down for a few days) if too many hazards were found.
In both instances – reading about the violations and later, living them – I was glad there was not only someone holding these places accountable, but that the reports were not just taped to the wall and later stored in some file cabinet at the county health department.
I was thrilled to see a local newspaper dedicating the space to making these violations known.
While it’s true that a large number of what Jackson County considers “critical” violations – employees drinking out of cups with no lids or mislabeled cleaning products – would never keep us from patronizing that establishment, we still need to know when these errors occur.
And we should have easy access to them. As easy as picking up a newspaper.
It’s been a year or more since this newspaper started running the list of critical violations from the county. And our sister paper in Cass County recently started doing the same.
We’ve been mildly criticized by some establishments that make the dubious list for piling on to a situation that they can remedy themselves.
I would argue all day that it is our responsibility to provide this information to the public. Sure, they can find it out on their own. And they could acquire election results on their own as well, but that doesn’t mean we should make them.
And given the extreme situation with the Kansas City restaurant with a cockroach problem, I believe it is now as important as ever to make sure we are holding our restaurants accountable for cleanliness and sanitation.
And to balance that out, perhaps we should encourage reader responses to positive experiences – food, atmosphere, service – that they have encountered at Lee’s Summit restaurants.
If you have a restaurant you want to brag on, send me the details. I would be happy to print them in a future edition.
John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.