Tio Pepe vows to comply with health laws VTC

February 26, 1997|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Tio Pepe Restaurante, which temporarily shut down after 16 people became ill and city inspectors found health violations, will work with outside consultants to help the popular establishment come into compliance, an attorney representing the owners said yesterday.

Keith Ronald, the attorney, said the outside consultants have not been hired. He declined to provide details about what the consultants would do.

The downtown Baltimore restaurant that serves Spanish and continental cuisine was closed for one night Feb. 11 after 16 people at a private dinner there became sick with vomiting and diarrhea one day after their meal.

The Health Department subsequently found violations at the restaurant including re-serving food and incidents of staff members not washing their hands before handling food.

Health department officials said yesterday that they would reinspect the restaurant today.

"Management at Tio Pepe is very concerned with the findings of the [Health] Department and will work with both representatives of the Health Department and outside consultants in the industry to ensure that the preparation and service of all meals at Tio Pepe complies with all applicable laws," according to a statement provided by the attorney yesterday.

The statement denied the Health Department's charge that the restaurant staff re-served the same food to different patrons.

"Tio Pepe emphatically denies that it has ever or would ever serve the same prepared food to more than one customer," restaurant management said through the statement.

The restaurant's management did acknowledge a city health inspector's report that butter was taken from customer tables and served again. It said that reusing butter was against "all of the rules of the restaurant."

Health Department officials suspect that the 16 people came in contact with E. coli, intestinal bacteria often spread by people who do not adequately wash their hands after using the restroom. E. coli was found on some food during a city health inspection.

The restaurant was inspected in 1995 and 1993. Both inspections documented several minor violations.

Pub Date: 2/26/97

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