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Mexican restaurant Los Cuates was among the area eateries that had multiple health violations this past year.

While local gourmet grocery Dean & Deluca attracted media attention when it was forced to close its doors because of a high number of critical health code violations, it is not the only area restaurant to have performed poorly on Department of Health inspections in the past year.

Booeymonger, Wingo’s and Los Cuates, all popular local dining destinations for Georgetown students, were among those cited for critical health code violations within the past year.
Booeymonger, a sandwich shop located at 3265 Prospect St. NW, was cited for four critical health violations in 2012, all of which were corrected on site.

“They cited us for food contact service area cleanliness,”Booeymonger’s manager Punny Wellaje said. “We clean the surfaces every night. … When [the inspector] came in, we were busy.”

Los Cuates on 1564 Wisconsin Ave. NW was cited for ten critical and 14 noncritical violations last April, of which five and three, respectively, were corrected on site. The citations included improper food temperatures, mold in the ice machine and cleaning solutions’ being stored in between food items, among others.

“The key is keeping clean,” restaurant manager Luis Merchant said. “The work areas have to be cleaned after every shift.”

Wingo’s, located at 3207 O St. NW, was cited for four critical health violations in March 2012, including improper holding temperatures, lack of proper date labels and improper food separation — all of which the restaurant was able to correct on site.

None of those businesses had to close their doors in light of the health inspections because most of their critical violations could be corrected on site. Food establishments that have six or more critical violations that cannot be corrected on site must be shut down, according to DOH policy.

After a routine health inspection in early February revealed eight critical and eleven noncritical violations, Dean & Deluca, which is located at 3276 M St. NW, was forced to close until it could correct those violations.

Among the grocery’s citations were those for including proper cooling procedures, rodent droppings and improperly installed plumping and toilet facilities.

The deli layout was rearranged and the store opened the following day, although the outdoor cafe remained closed. Katy Foley, an account director at Michelle Lehmann Communications, which represents Dean & Deluca, later cited nearby construction as the main cause of the health violations in a statement.

Wellaje did not believe that the construction outside Dean & Deluca excused the violations.

“If you have violations, it doesn’t matter what is going on outside,” Wellaje said.

Mike Arthur, manager of Wingo’s on 3207 O St. NW, felt much the same way.

“We had major construction [on O Street], and … the rats are everywhere,” Arthur said. “You have to have all your trash in containers. You have to wash, to keep everything clean. You can’t give them a reason to come into your store.”

Arthur believes Dean & Deluca is blaming construction for a far larger issue — food cleanliness.

“Dean & Deluca, if you’ve been in it, there’s food everywhere. There’s stuff on the floor,” Arthur said. “It’s not a good excuse that construction turned up the rats — no, they were there the whole time. I’m sure they had lunch all the time there.”

While health inspections can be tedious, Arthur believes that they are ultimately beneficial for restaurant owners and the public alike.

“I want them to come,” Arthur said. “I think a health inspection every day would be great. I have no problem with them coming to Wingo’s because we’re doing everything right.”

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