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Prescott Station Closes at the Insistence of the Health Department Featured

After months of negotiations, the Prescott Station Bar & Grill was compelled to close

Big Idea

  • The Prescott Station has been closed by the Health Department
  • A hearing was held before the County Hearing Officer, who issued a finding
  • The Yavapai County Environmental Health Services did not follow the findings of the Hearing Officer
  • The County also placed onerous requirements on the restaurant owners
  • Read more...

While the rest of the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, Yavapai County Community Environmental Health Services pursued efforts to close Prescott Station

When you drive up to Prescott Station, you’ll see a sign that says, “Prescott Station is temporarily closed.”

You don’t see the rest of the story behind that sign, however. The story that explains why the restaurant is "temporarily" closed. The story that tells you how the owner was forced to close, and that when the the restaurant reopens under new ownership, it might not even be called, “Prescott Station.”

On October 9, 2020, during the Board of Health meeting, Cecil. Newell from the Environmental Health department reported:

Prescott Station isn’t mentioned here by name, but it is almost certainly the restaurant in question. So, what led up to this?

Nobody disputes that Prescott Station has had their share of violations in the last few years. However, the violations were neither extraordinary or unusual when you compare Prescott Station to other restaurants in the local area. Go to the Yavapai County Health Department website and check out some favorite restaurants.

Prescott Station Informed They Must Close

In a letter prepared on September 3, 2020, The Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS) Department informed the Prescott Station Grill & Bar, and the owners, Robert and Linda Gabrick, of the intention to seek a Revocation of License to operate their establishment. The reason given was that the “…establishment was not meeting minimum requirements…" of the 2017 FDA Food Code, and the Yavapai County Health Code and ordinances.

The Gabricks responded that they wished to request a hearing for the Revocation of License. That hearing took place on Monday, October 19, 2020, before Larry Jacobs, Yavapai County Hearing Officer.

In January of 2019, Yavapai County adopted the 2017 FDA Food Code. Before that, they operated under the 2009 FDA Food Code. According to Ms. Monica Kriner, the Unit Manager and CASA Program Administrator for YCCHS, Prescott Station had long standing and systemic problems.

Robert Gabrick thought the Health Department inspections were for guidance and correction, and did not realize that they were considering closing the restaurant.

Prescott Station's Record

In the 2017 Code, three types of problems are listed:

Priority Items: High critical

Priority Foundation Item: Low critical

Core Item: Not critical, but it can have an affect on preventing food illnesses

Since April 26, 2017, Prescott Station had:

  • 22 Priority violations, 9 of which were corrected immediately while the inspector was still there.
  • 12 Priority foundation items, 7 of which were corrected immediately.
  • 23 Core violations, 4 of which were corrected immediately.

When items were found at Prescott Station that needed to be corrected, nearly 40% were corrected immediately, while the health inspector was there. The items that were not corrected immediately, were mostly corrected by the next visit. There were five inspections that had no violations whatsoever. Restaurants all over the region have received similar types of violations during their inspections.

Their last inspection on December 23, 2020, had no Priority or Priority Foundation violations, but 1 core violation - two lights had a bare exposed light bulb that was not shielded or shatter resistant.

The inspector wrote, “Provisional inspection conducted this date. Dinner service observed with no priority or priority foundation violations noted at this time. Facility is very much improved from previous visits.”

Gabrick Made Numerous Investments in an Effort to Bring the Restaurant Into Compliance

According to the Health Department, Prescott Station, “…has shown a blatant disregard for public safety (most recently from 2018 to the present). They continue to show a disregard for high risk for food borne illness it creates in the way they operate their facility…”

Yet, Gabrick was quite responsive to their concerns, making $81,700 in repairs and upgrades within the last 18 months.

  • New kitchen floor $16,000
  • 3 days closed for kitchen floor installation $15,500
  • Sealing all interior walls $14,000
  • New tankless water heater system $9500
  • Installation on remote ice machine condenser on roof $9400
  • Purchase of (5) new sandwich/prep coolers @ $2400 each
  • Wiring of new electrical circuits in kitchen $3500
  • Repair of compressor on cooler $1100
  • Replacing of gaskets on 2 coolers $700

Additionally, they invested nearly $500,000 into the property itself.

  • Remodel to building 2012: $400,000
  • Additional power brought in by APS $36,000
  • Deck Addition with Pergola $29,000
  • Improvements to AC units and kitchen make up air $10,000
  • Improvements to atrium $7,000
  • New kitchen equipment $9,000
  • Dining room flooring

The Hearing Officer Releases His Findings

In his final judgment on October 26, Jacobs stated that:

  • Prescott Station should be entered into the Compliance Assistance and Support Activities (CASA) Program
  • Prescott Station should be given a 90 day provisional permit during that time
  • Be granted an annual license after completing the the CASA program.

YCCHS Ignores Hearing Officer’s Findings, Imposes Inflexible Requirements

Instead, YCCHS completely ignored Jacob’s findings. In an email sent two days later to the Gabrick’s attorney, Joy Biedermann, Deputy Yavapai County Attorney, wrote on October 28, that the YCCHS was only willing to offer only the following:

  • Prescott Station receives a provisional permit and a plan review, including providing all specifications regarding recently tankless hot water heaters
  • Reduce the food menu to at least ½ of what has been provided previously (subject to approval by the health department)
  • Pay non-refundable fees associated with the application of $1155, paid in advance by cashiers check or money order
  • Provisional permit to expire on or before 5 PM on Thursday, December 31, 2020
  • If Prescott Station has not been sold and ownership transferred, the restaurant shall be closed

In addition, YCCHS required:

  • New managers all with manager certificates to be in charge and on the premises during all this of operation, including food prep
    • No existing or prior managers allowed
    • If there is not a certified manager on site during the operations, the restaurant will be immediately shut down
  • Inspections will occur at least every other week
  • No priority violations - if there is one, the establish meant will be closed immediately with a sign posted stating, “Shut down by the Health Department.”

If Prescott Station is successful with a sale, the new owners will have to apply for a Provisional Permit with the following requirements:

  • New owners information - cannot be Robert or Linda Gabrick, any existing or prior managers or prior employees (before November 2)
  • $490 Provisional Permit Fee paid to the Health Department before taking ownership
  • Approval of menu
  • Any additional fees required by the health department, to be paid by new owners
  • Managers for new owners cannot be Robert or Linda Gabrik, any existing or prior managers or prior employees
  • Provide a copy of the leas for the real estate in the new owners’ name
  • Liquor license must be in new owners’ name
  • If a corporate owner, then they need all corporate paperwork and authorizations to operate
  • Name of the restaurant cannot be “Prescott Station” either legally or as a dba
  • All items out of compliance with either building code, Fire code or Health Department must be brought into compliance
  • All procedures for change in ownership need to be complied with and coordinated with the health department.

Furthermore, YCCHS isn’t even following their own protocols. According to the Yavapai County Health code (page 12), it reads:

They didn’t follow the decision of the Hearing Officer, Larry Jacobs. They didn’t bring it before the Board of Health to ratify the decision.

Going to Court

On Thursday, December 30, 2020, Robert Grabrick and his attorneys were granted an emergency hearing before Judge Michael McGill for a Temporary Restraining Order against the County closing the restaurant. McGill denied the request.

According to Gabrick, Judge McGill relied on a law from the late 1930’s, which precluded him from deciding this case. Gabrick reported that McGill said he had hoped there would be a settlement reached amongst themselves in advance of this hearing, but that he believed it was likely that Gabrick had grounds for a civil suit against the Yavapai County.

Despite the fact that Gabrick was able to show a letter of intent from a potential buyer, YCCHS would not relax their requirements.

Gabrick worked hard to bring the Prescott Station into compliance - and what does he get? An irreversible order to close that went against the County Hearing Officer’s ruling and didn’t even follow their own protocols. This action by YCCHS caused irreparable harm to his business, knocked 33 employees out of a job, and caused thousands of dollars less to be paid in taxes for our community.

It appears likely that this is not the last court appearance for the Gabricks over this case.

Prescott Station Closes

Gabrick is proud of the thousands of meals served, and the multiple awards they received. On New Year’s Eve, Prescott Station served, “...235 perfectly executed dinners, while saying good bye to people, knowing that it’s the last dinners we would serve, but we served them perfectly. The customers were unbelievably happy. But the Health Department was closing us down even though we did nothing wrong."

Gabrick said he still cares greatly about the community and the customers he’s gotten to know. "Our relationship with the community has been tremendous. They have rewarded us greatly over 8 ¾ years, and they’ve been great fans of ours, and we’ve been great fans of theirs.”

As for YCCHS? They’ve already removed information about Prescott Station inspections from their website.

 

 

 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 06 January 2021 17:04
Published in Prescott.news
Lynne LaMaster

Lynne LaMaster is the Editor and Publisher of CopperState News. In her past life, she was the founder of a successful local news media publication in the Prescott area. She started CopperState News with the idea that local news deserves a statewide platform.

Besides prowling around for community news - especially good news! - Lynne and her husband Lewis enjoy their eight children and six grandchildren (although more are always welcome!). Lynne is connected non-stop to her camera and loves creating unique gifts with her Cricut!

One of her favorite sayings is, "It's not about me!"

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