The cleanest and dirtiest food establishments in Chatham County

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 10/18/19

When I was younger, when my parents would take me through drive-thrus, I would always look for the sanitation grade — A, B, 97, 98, etc.

So, as assigned to me by my boss, looking through the most recent sanitation inspection scores for Chatham County restaurants and food stands was like driving through those drive-thrus again.

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The cleanest and dirtiest food establishments in Chatham County

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Posted

When I was younger, when my parents would take me through drive-thrus, I would always look for the sanitation grade — A, B, 97, 98, etc.

So, as assigned to me by my boss, looking through the most recent sanitation inspection scores for Chatham County restaurants and food stands was like driving through those drive-thrus again. The State of North Carolina’s Dept. of Health and Human Services uses the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2009 Food Code to examine restaurants and give a number and letter grade, and overall, Chatham County looks good.

Just one of the 162 establishments I looked at had a B, while all 161 others received an A, which ranges from 90 to 100. Here’s a few of the things I found while doing this research:

Forty-three establishments scored a 100.

Chapel Hill led the way with 13 restaurants and food stands, while Pittsboro and Siler City had 12 each, Bear Creek registered three and Moncure, Apex and New Hill each had one.

Breakway Cafe and Capp’s Pizzeria, both located at Briar Chapel, scored perfectly in Chapel Hill, along with Taco Bell of Polk’s Village and Domino’s Pizza on U.S. Hwy. 15-501. S&T Soda Shoppe, The Root Cellar of Pittsboro and Phoenix Bakery each notched a 100 in Pittsboro, while Siler City was well-represented by Compadres Mexican Restaurant & Cantina, Oasis Fresh Market Deli and the Pizza Hut/Wing Street on Eleventh Street.

Brewer’s Grill, Elois’ Snack Bar and the Barn at Woodlake Meadows each scored 100 in Bear Creek.

The Community Store in Moncure, which counts as a food stand, currently showcases its perfect 100 on its Facebook page, while Xu Catering in New Hill is designated with a 100. The Cruizers on U.S. Highway 64 also has a perfect score.

Eight food establishments were so close.

The nearest to perfect, a 99.5, was given to five establishments in Pittsboro, two in Siler City and one in Goldston.

Community favorites Al’s Diner and Virlie’s Grill each scored 99.5 in Pittsboro, joining China Inn, Highway 55 and the deli at Food Lion (yes, those count as food stands) just shy of perfect. Brownie Lu’s and the Walmart deli in Siler City also received that grade, along with Lizzie’s Grill-N-Chill in Goldston.

A Durham convenience store was the only B.

Seagroves Supply Co., located on N.C. Hwy. 751, was categorized by the FDA as a fast food restaurant and received an 86 on its July 11, 2019, inspection.

Among the violations spotted were “heavy black mold accumulation on customer self-service drink machine nozzles,” which the report noted were “removed immediately and put in sink to bleach,” and “Comet and windshield washer fluid observed in food service area,” of which “both were removed during inspection.” The establishment was also cited for six repeat violations, including a “food employee observed with no hair restraint” and a “box of creamer observed on floor in walk-in cooler.”

Five restaurants scored between 90 and 92.

Subway #55272, located on U.S. Hwy. 15-501 N in Chapel Hill, scored the second-lowest grade with a 90. The citations ranged from “food employee observed going from cash register to preparing food and not washing hands” to the “walk-in cooler floor observed with debris.”

The Fearrington House Restaurant in Fearrington Village scored a 91. One citation noted food was stored on the floor in the walk-in freezer and milk was stored on the floor in the walk-in cooler. Another citation, a repeat violation, noted “excessive tape on intake shute at dishwasher” and “water ponding” on the “hot side prep cooler.”

Three more food establishments —The Belted Goat at Fearrington, Loma Bonita in Siler City and Subway #33705 in Siler City — each scored 92s.

One bad score isn’t the end of the world.

Restaurants can and have improved over time. The Subway #55272 in Chapel Hill had scored an 85 in March 2018. Papa John’s Pizza on Governors Drive in Chapel Hill scored an 89 that same month, but is now a 99. La Michoacan scored an 82 on August 13, 2019, but a month later it notched a 97.5. Chris’ Drive-In in Siler City had an 87.5 in November 2016, but its current score in 94.5

Where you can find the scores.

Worried about your favorite restaurant? Thinking about trying a new place? Wondering if that one establishment has improved its ways? Visit chathamnc.org/government/departments-programs/environmental-health/food-lodging-and-institutions/food-service to see the full list of the most current food inspections.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR, where occasionally he’ll post about trying to eat healthy in Chatham County.

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