Cafe owner Rhyl slams ‘bullying’ inspector who ‘brought staff to tears’

THE owner of Harkers Corner Café in Rhyl has slammed the one-star rating the cafe received just weeks ago, saying the hygiene inspector ‘abused’ his authority while antagonizing staff .

Harkers received a one-star rating from the local authority inspector (Denbighshire County Council), a decision which frustrated landlord Darren Cooper, having only taken over the lease three days previously.

“We took over the business on Monday, and they visited on Thursday,” Mr. Cooper told the Log.

“The kitchen was immaculate, and the reason we were noted was that the allergen reports weren’t on hand, as we had just finished producing the new menu the day before and they were in my chef’s car cook, who was off that day.

MORE: Llandudno cafe receives food hygiene rating

Mr Cooper also owns the popular LC Drink & Dine in Llandudno, which has a 5 rating, and criticized the inspector who rated their Rhyl establishment.

“When I spoke to the guy on the phone, he spoke to me like he was a principal and I was a naughty schoolboy.

“He was nothing short of a bully – he was happy with everything but that paperwork, and even when given it he wouldn’t accept it,” Mr Cooper said.

“He made the girl behind the counter cry, and one of my bosses asked me if I wanted him to resign because we were given a 1 and he had done nothing wrong.

“If we had been there for months, even weeks, and hadn’t done anything, it would be absolutely more than fair for him to tag us like he did.”

They then reported the inspector to the local authority, with the rating revealing what Mr Cooper perceives as an ‘abuse’ of authority.

Mr Cooper also welcomed a fine for failing to post the notice, which is a legal requirement, further threatening to close the entire cafe instead of posting the hygiene notice.

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“The point scoring system and having to display it is normally positive, but there are times when, unfortunately, people abuse their authority and this is one of those occasions.

“We didn’t put it [the rating] still at the window, because I would rather get fined and go to court – we don’t deserve it, it’s not fair.

“Before I do that [put the rating in the window] I will take my lease on the premises and close the cafe.

Harkers paid £180 on the day of the inspection for another, but it could take up to six months to undertake.

A spokesperson for Denbighshire County Council said: “Environmental health officers often have to enter and inspect food premises without having to make an appointment or give notice. This is to ensure that food hygiene standards are assessed without prior notification.

“The frequency of visits varies between every six months and every three years, depending on the type of business and the hygiene history. Officers may also visit premises following a complaint from a member of the public.

“The outcome of this particular visit and additional comments from officers have been raised and discussed with the owner. Recommendations were proposed to the company to improve the food hygiene score.

“The Council takes any complaint about the Services seriously and will deal with any complaint submitted through the Council’s complaints process.”

MORE: Rhyl takeaway got a zero out of five food hygiene rating

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