A reader asked us how to find out about restaurant health code violations in Wellesley, the sort you sometimes see documented in local newspapers like the Brookline Tab.
The Wellesley Health Department tells us that the town’s Board of Health decided years ago not to support such regular coverage and you won’t find much online either: ” Restaurants in Wellesley are inspected by this department twice yearly at a minimum. A restaurant inspection is a complex process that involves much skill and experience on the part of the inspector to enforce sanitation and food code regulations, and ideally involves cooperation and learning on the part of the restaurant management and staff. Unless the food establishment management is really bad, most of the time our inspectors are successful in educating into compliance, reinforced by additional announced and unannounced inspections. Capsule comments such as those in a weekly column cannot accurately portray the depth of this process, and can actually hinder it.”
The Health Department does get calls from residents about restaurants from time to time and inspectors follow up on those calls. More info on the town’s food regulations here.
So, it’s understandable that the town would want to discourage the sort of media exploitation you tend to see online these days with things like local police logs, but the downside to the town’s approach on restaurant inspections is that eateries can become the subject of unfair speculation when operators close temporarily simply to go on vacation.
Perhaps a more detailed sign in the window stating a reopen date would help. It’s just not a common occurrence for a restaurant to go on vacation for weeks on end (without a voice mail announcement stating a proposed reopen date.)