Restaurant closes after receiving 24 on health inspection

STONE MOUNTAIN - A Stone Mountain restaurant voluntarily closed after receiving an extremely low score during a routine health inspection Wednesday.

The Asian Buffet located at 1825 Rockbridge Road scored a 24 out of a possible 100 points and a grade of "U" following an inspection by the Gwinnett County Health Department.

According to the inspection report, 16 codes were violated, including storing foods at potentially hazardous temperatures, washing vegetables in a sink used for meats, storing a dirty knife with clean utensils and having no specified source for where the restaurant bought its oysters.

Health Department spokesman Vernon Goins attributed the low score to a combination of newly enforced state regulations and lack of discretion by restaurant owners.

He said Georgia is one of 35 states now using stricter Food and Drug Administration mandated inspection guidelines. The upgrade in regulations was made in December.

"This provides far better protection for the dining public, who are our main concern," Goins said of the new regulations.

According to previous inspection records, the Asian Buffet scored a 74 during an Nov. 15, 2007, inspection, prompting a reinspection Nov. 30 which produced a score of 92. The inspection was made under the old regulations.

Though the restaurant owners have not called to schedule a reinspection, Goins said they have been "extremely cooperative" and made the decision themselves to close.

"Although this is extremely low, we feel that the manager and owner/operator of this facility recognized the need for change and we fully expect to see it," Goins said.

Goins explained the Health Department would be forced to close the restaurant if it received a "U" grade on reinspection, but health officials are hoping that won't be the case. If that were to happen, Goins said the facility would have to score a perfect 100 before being allowed to reopen.

Goins said Wednesday's score is the second lowest given in the history of the department. The lowest, a 17, was given about five years ago, Goins said. Goins could not remember the name of the restaurant.