As the Red Hen restaurant that booted Sarah HuckabeeSanders and receiveda lashing aboutcleanliness from President Donald Trumpgets set to reopen, a USA TODAY review showsrestaurantsin Trump family business properties have a similarly mixed history of health inspection violations.
The review was conducted after Red Hen co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson asked Sanders, the White House press secretary, to leavetheLexington, Virginia, restaurant on June 22 because of Sanders’ jobin the Trump administration.
Three days later, the nation’s commander-in-chief mounted a Twitter attack on the farm-to-table restaurant.
Panning what he characterized as the Red Hen’s “filthy canopies, doors and windows,” plus an urgent need for a “paint job,” Trump tweeteda heretofore undeclaredrule, one possibly learned during his career heading a businesswith fine-dining establishments atclubs andgolf courses.
More Money: Top fast-food, full-service restaurants for customer satisfaction named in new ACSI survey
More Money: 9 things to know about your credit score and how it’s calculated
For anyone who may have missed it, the Trump Rule is: “If a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it’s dirty on the inside.”
The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
The tweet prompted a two-fold question: Have restaurant inspections found the Red Hen to be unsanitary, and how haveeateries in properties of The Trump Organizationfared in similar inspections?
Here’s a partial comparison, drawn from areview of inspection records in fourstates and Canada, that provides an overview ofkitchen cleanliness at the eateries. Inspections capture snapshots on the day they are conductedand may not be representative ofa restaurant’s performance over time, regulatory agencies say.
The review focused on recent inspection records for Trump-related eateriesthat appeared to have no ownership or management links tooutside chefs or restaurant companies.
For instance, inspection findingsfor Jean-Georges, thefamed restaurant of Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten that’s in the Trump International Hotel and Tower New York, were not included. Inspection results for BLT Prime, steakhouse restaurants in some Trump properties but run by an outside firm, were similarlyexcluded from the review.
The Trump Organization did not respond to messages on Tuesday and Thursday that sought information about the ownership and management of some other restaurants in the company’s properties.
During inspections conducted after Trump’s January 2017 presidential inauguration, his sons, DonaldTrump Jr. and Eric Trump, have handled theday-to-day operations ofThe Trump Organization and the family company’s enterprises.
The Red Hen initially had been expected to reopen June 26, after its regular Monday closing the previous day. However, the restaurant has remained closed in recent weeks as it became a gathering point for protesters who criticizedor cheeredthe decision to show Sanders to the door.
OnThursday, some who phoned the eateryreached a recorded Verizon message that said “calling restrictions” had prevented the calls from being completed.
Tentatively expected to reopen Thursday reportedly with localpolice on hand for anticipated protests the Red Hen has had a mixed record with Virginia health inspectors.
Its most recent inspection, conducted inFebruary 2018, produced no violations. But an April 2014 inspection resulted in one violation for raw beef stored above cooked, ready-to-eat food, as well as thawing meats stored above cookie bars.
A secondviolation cited a ready-to-eat container of grits stored in a refrigeration unit without being properly dated.
Those violations, issued before a 2016 update of Virginia’s inspection regulations, would have been classified as priority violations now, due to the possibility they could be a direct cause of illness for the restaurant’s guests.
A January 2017 inspection citedRed Hen with a priority violation for having pickles orjams in a sealed container that did not come from an approved food-processing facility.
Unlike the Red Hen, there have been no publicly-reported incidents of restaurants in properties of The Trump Organizationthrowing out the president’scritics. However, recent inspections of the facilities have cited a variety of health violations, some of them deemed serious.
File photo taken in 2016 shows The Trump Tower Grille inside Trump Tower in New York City. (Photo: AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Trump Grill, a “classic American cuisine” restaurant, andTrump Caf茅, which serves sandwiches, snacksand hot entrees, are in New York City’s Trump Tower, the Manhattan skyscraperon Fifth Avenue where Trump lived before he was elected president in 2016.
Records for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Health list them as a single establishment. It currently holdsthe top grade of A, earned from the health agency during the most recent inspection cycle last year. Many diners check the ratingswhen they decide where to eat.
The first inspection in the cycle, conducted in November 2017, citeda critical violation for “filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies in facility’s food and/or non-food areas,” along with aninfraction for “conditions conducive to attracting vermin.”
The health agency’s inspection grading system gives restaurants two chances to earn an A rating during each inspection cycle.
A follow-up inspection, conducted in December 2017, cited nine violation points. The total wasbelow the health agency’s13-point limitthat could have triggered a lower rating.
Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver
File photo shows Eric Trump speaking at a ceremony for the official opening of the Trump International Tower and Hotel in Vancouver, Canada. The tower is The Trump Organization's first new international property since Donald Trump took office as the U.S. president. (Photo: Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
A March 2018 inspection by Vancouver Coastal Health found “signs of rodent activity” in the convention prep kitchen of the Trump International Hotel &Tower that opened during the prior year in the seaport city of Canada’s British Columbia province.
However, the kitchen was deemed to be in compliance with all other health regulations.
Vancouver Coastal Health spokesman Matt Kieltykasaid there was no one immediately availableto discuss the inspection results.
File photo taken in 2017 shows the entrance of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)
Trump National Golf Club Bedminster
A September 2016 inspection of the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, a New Jersey facility that hosts weddings and banquets along with golfing, gave the club an overall rating of satisfactory, according to aSomerset County Department of health report posted by NJ.com.
However, the report listeda violation for “cutting utensils and utensil holder with old and encrusted food buildup.”
File photo shows a federal motorcade bringing President Donald Trump to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Trump International Golf Club West Palm Beach
A Florida inspection conducted in February hit the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach with a high priorityviolation forhaving cases of raw beef stored over commercially produced salad dressings.
Without discussing inspections of specific restaurants, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation said in an email that high-priority citations “indicate direct concerns related to possible food-borne illnesses.”
The violation was corrected during the inspection, and the restaurant conditionsmetthe state’sinspection standards during the visit, online state records show.
The state agency advisedthat Florida restaurantsare not graded or rated because violationsfound at the time of the visitcould change and”may not be representative of the overall, long-term conditions at the establishment.”
Florida restaurant inspections for the March 2017 check of the main kitchen at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter and for the June 2018 review of the Trump Hollywood condominium tower found no high-priority violations.
The Mar-a-Lago resort owned by President Trump in Palm Beach, Fla. (Photo: Lynne Sladky, AP)
The Mar-A-Lago Club
Dubbed the Winter White House by Trump aides, The Mar-A-Lago Clubemerged from the Palm Beach, Florida, luxury private facility’s most recent restaurant inspection in April with zero violations.
However, a January 2017 inspection, conducted weeks before a Trump visit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, cited three high-priority violations. They included raw or undercooked fish that had “not undergone proper parasite destruction.”
Like many states and localities,Florida’s Division of Hotels and Restaurantsuses the 2009 U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food code, athree-tier category system for food safety and sanitation inspections.
State and local inspection agencies may modify or add to the system, saidRoy Costa, president of the Florida-based food-safety consulting firm Environ Health Associates.
Inspectors assessevery part of the eatery, including how well the building is maintained,how food is stored,pest control, andwhether staff members movebetween raw and cooked food preparation without changing gloves. The four key areas, called foodborne illness indicators, are food temperatures and time, cross-contamination, improper cooking and personal hygiene.
Which ones will kill you, I dont know, but theyre all bad, said Costa, whocontrasted the group of four with non-critical violations, such as an unclean floor or utensils not stored with their handles up.
“Really good companies and there areplenty of them out of there have quality-assurance programs and theyre checking up on their (restaurants). They have rules. They have procedures. The ones that go the extra mile are the ones that are pretty safe most of the time, added Costa, who was speaking in general about eateries.
Full-service restaurants with more elaborate menus and more complex processes, like the Red Hen and those in The Trump Organizationproperties, are more vulnerable to violations than fast-food eateries with limited food offerings and a streamlined kitchen production line, said Craig Hedberg, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Minnesota.
And those with repeated violations can get into even more trouble with their local health departments, said Hedberg. Those eateries will be flagged by inspectors, who bringcopies of previous reports on their visits and can spotpatterns of regulation flouting. How repeat offenses are handled differs by jurisdiction.
Its very rare to see a perfect score, he said. In general, things are getting better. There have been efforts to try to improve the sanitation in kitchens and (improve) the publics access to inspection results, which then provides a feedback mechanism both to the inspectors and the operators that people are watching.”
During the past three years, restaurants inTrump Organization properties have not been hit with shutdown orders like the unanticipated outcome of a Nevada inspection in late 2012.
File photo taken in 2007 shows then-real estate developer Donald Trump delivering remarks as he celebrated the topping off of Tower I at the Trump International Hotel & Towers in Las Vegas. (Photo: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
The DJT Restaurant, the upscale eatery that bears Trump’s initials, was shut down for several hours following a November 2012 inspection at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.
Thatinspection, conducted four years before Trump won the White House, cited 51 demerits for such violations as keeping food items well past their expiration dates. For instance, the inspection found duck from as far back as June of that year, fish stock from Octoberand caviar from September, the inspection report shows.
Additionally, raw beef was found stored over cooked chicken, the report said.
The restaurant was hit with separate fees of $716 and $459 for the violations. “In the future facility may be required to attend supervisory conference,”the written inspectionform cautioned.
However, DJT Restaurant was authorized to reopenhours later, after the violations had been corrected. Stephanie Bethel, a spokeswoman for the Southern Nevada Health District, said the agency does not comment on specific restaurant inspections.
“We take these situations very seriously and all adjustments were made immediately,” the DJT Restaurant said in a statement issued afterward, according to media reports at the time.
The restaurant was cited for eight demerits and received an A grade after a July 2017 inspection, state records show.
Contributing: Alexa Imani Spencer and Caroline Simon, USA TODAY