The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services incorrectly cited a downtown Bethesda restaurant this month because of an inspector’s error.
Barrel and Crow at 4867 Cordell Ave. was mistakenly reported as being out of compliance for “hot holding temperature” on Dec. 19. The violation was corrected, according to the report.
But the county’s health inspections manager said Monday morning that the report was actually meant for Bethesda Bagels at 10241 Old Georgetown Road in the Wildwood Shopping Center. A second inspection in October was also incorrectly attached to Barrel and Crow’s file.
Kenneth Welch, the county’s environmental health services manager, told Bethesda Beat Monday that when inspector Erica Davis was writing the Bethesda Bagels report, she tried to put it in a file for Bethesda Bagels, but had trouble doing so on her computer. Instead, she put it in a file for Barrel and Crow, meaning to later label the report for Bethesda Bagels.
“What she has to do is change the name and address to Bethesda Bagels. However, she did not do that,” Welch said.
Welch said Davis is one of 21 county health inspectors, and she is responsible for inspecting 174 restaurants. He said that when an inspector files a report, it is numbered according to the file on the computer it is placed in. DataMontgomery, which includes information on restaurant inspections, then takes the data from each file on the inspector’s computer.
“When data Montgomery picks it up, they’re picking it up from the numbered facility [computer file],” he said.
A letter from Welch to Houlihan on Monday blamed a “computer software issue” as the reason for “the inspector saving two inspections in the database under Barrel & Crow for another food service facility which was inspected.” Welch wrote that the wrong reports on dataMontgomery would be redacted when the website updates at 2 a.m.
Welch said Barrel and Crow was last inspected on Aug. 21, even though the county’s database wrongly shows it was inspected Oct. 15 and Dec. 19. He said he found out about the error early Monday morning when Barrel and Crow owner Laura Houlihan came to the office to report the problem.
Asked if any other restaurants have been given erroneous reports, he said he needed to check the county’s database.
Houlihan said Monday that she became aware of the issue when the local Patch website published the county’s inspection report last week, then Bethesda Beat included it in a news roundup item on Friday. She said she has heard from food bloggers and others in the community over the weekend about the erroneous report.
“When he [Welch] says it was a computer error, I said, that makes or breaks a business. … I’ve got an established clientele and that affects my business,” she said. “It’s not a good feeling.”
Houlihan said the erroneous report raises the question of whether other restaurants were incorrectly cited.
“You wonder how many other restaurant’s [inspection reports] were errors,” she said.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org