Sept. 21, 2004 The Division of Environmental Health has shut down a St. Thomas eatery and catering business for repeated health violations in its kitchen. And while the shutdown of L.P. Catering will have a ripple effect on the government's ability to provide meals for some of its elderly clients, the decision could not have been avoided, Commissioner Darlene Carty said Tuesday
"There simply were too many repeat offenses," she said.
L.P. Catering which operated out of the old L'Escargot Restaurant in Subbase was on contract with the government to provide meals for both the Human Services "Meals on Wheels" program and meals for the Eldra Schulterbrandt mental healthcare facility on St. Thomas' east end.
Carty said the violations were detected repeatedly by inspectors of the Division of Environmental Health between August and Sept. 17 when the business was shut down.
"Our staff was there several times and issued warnings about the violations, which were mainly in the kitchen," Carty said Tuesday, adding that the owners were given ample opportunities to reverse the violations.
Carty said the Health Department has relied on outside cooks to prepare meals for those patients at the Schulterbrandt facility, and she said Human Services was making tentative plans "along the same lines."
Human Services spokeswoman Monife Stout said Tuesday that the department was "conducting telephonic bids" with hopes of identifying a new contractor by the end of the day. Stout added that like the Health Department, Human Services had taken steps to ensure that "there was no interruption in the Meals on Wheels program."
Aside from being on contract with the V.I. government, L.P. Catering provided catering services for parties, receptions and other social events and recently advertised a daily lunch buffet special. In fact, Blanche Sasso's 105th birthday celebration Saturday had to be relocated to another venue after the shutdown was ordered.
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