Health Department shuts down Tulsa restaurant

Friday, February 10th 2006, 11:01 am
By: News On 6

A long-time Tulsa restaurant is shutdown for chronic health code violations. After more than 30 years in business, the Fountains Restaurant's license has been suspended.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims has more on why the business will have to shut its doors for at least a month.

Six years ago, the Fountain's kitchen was bustling, its owner was riding high, and the restaurant was enjoying its status as a long-time Tulsa favorite. Now health officials say the kitchen is deteriorating, dirty, and its got to be shutdown. Elizabeth Nutt with the Tulsa City-County Health Department: "this particular facility they've really been on a downhill decline for several years and we really had gotten to the point where we couldn't let it continue anymore."

Health officials say over the last five years the restaurant has been inspected 32 times and it's failed 14 of them. They've found uncovered food stored on dirty trays, dirty storage drawers, trash bags sitting above ready-to-eat rolls, and food not being stored at the right temperature. "We've written numerous citations, we've had meetings uhh we've asked them to do self-inspections things of that nature to try to help them get in compliance, but it just wasn't working.”

Last month, the Tulsa Board of Health voted to take the next step and temporarily suspend the restaurant's license. Fountain's owner Luis Tineo appealed to the city council, but didn't show up to Thursday night's hearing. Tineo didn't want to speak on camera, but he said in a statement "that he was told the hearing had been continued until next week and that's why he did not attend." He also said he felt "the health department was discriminating against him" and "the department has told others that they wanted to close Fountain's down since 2004, no matter what."

Elizabeth Nutt says they've tried to work with Fountains to get them in compliance. "They have a right to have a business to have a livelihood and we don't like to take that away but at the same time we dont feel right letting people go into these facilities to eat if its unclean unsafe environment.”

The Fountain's owner Luis Tineo says he's going to get started on renovating the kitchen and he plans to be back open by the middle of next month. He also says he apologizes to his customers for the inconvenience.