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Draper Rancheritos back open after being closed for cleaning

Posted at 3:27 PM, Dec 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 19:22:34-05

DRAPER, Utah — A restaurant that was was shut down by the Salt Lake County Health Department on Sunday has been reopened.

Robert Talivakaola said he was attempting to order food at Rancheritos Mexican Food in Draper around 5 a.m. Sunday and got no response. He said he then looked through the window to get an employee’s attention and saw the person who was supposed to be handling his food urinating inside the kitchen.

“I was just like, ‘Man, nobody’s going to believe you!’ So I just pulled out my camera and started recording,” Talivakaola said. “He looked like he was pretty comfortable doing it… like he’s done it before.”

Nicholas Rupp, a spokesperson for the Salt Lake County Health Department, told FOX 13 the restaurant was temporarily shut down for cleaning and sanitizing. It passed an inspection and was reopened Monday.

The employee in the video had his food handler’s permit revoked.

“There’s a possibility of criminal charges, and that’s something that we are still discussing,” Rupp said. “I was horrified. This is not appropriate behavior in a kitchen setting.”

“That’s not my intention,” Talivakaola said. “My intention was just the awareness of food safety.”

Perla Lee, the owner of Rancherito’s in Draper, said the employee admitted to urinating on the floor and was fired immediately.

“He couldn’t give me a reason why he didn’t go to the bathroom,” Lee said. “He hadn’t been there for any more than three months… he was always here on time. He was doing a great job.”

Lee said her main priority now is doing everything she can to regain the trust of her customers.

“We’re actually pretty thankful for the person that recorded the video because we might have never noticed,” Lee said. “Definitely tough. Not only as a manager, but as a human being.”

Rupp said Sunday that the restaurant could reopen once it passed an inspection and outlined a plan to ensure this “never happens again.” It had passed and was reopened Monday afternoon.

“There’s no requirement that I’m aware of for video surveillance, but I know a number of restaurants in Salt Lake County do have that,” Rupp said.

The employee who lost his food handling permit is not eligible to get it back without a hearing. A health officer would need to be “convinced” the employee can responsibly handle food without reoffending.