Dirty Dining: Some restaurants make the grade, others work to clean up their act

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 20, 2015) -- Once again, FOX59 looked into local restaurants to see who's keeping things clean and who needs to clean up their act. All across central Indiana, hands are touching the food you're ordering long before it gets to your table. Over the past few months, some restaurants picked up concerning violations.

This time around, FOX59's Jill Glavan contacted restaurants ahead of time to give them a chance to explain themselves.

Of all the restaurants contacted, Kilroy's on North Meridian Street downtown was the only one where managers immediately agreed to let cameras inside.

"We have a clean kitchen. We’re proud of it and if there’s ever any question on that I’d be happy to show anybody," Kilroy's manager partner Chris Burton said.

In its last routine inspection earlier this year, Kilroy's picked up an unusually high number of violations, 6 of them critical and 15 non-critical. It also took an inspector four return trips to fix all of the problems.

On multiple trips, that inspector saw employees not washing their hands, at one point saying "retrain all employees on proper handwashing" and issuing a warning. The inspector also noted a repeat violation of cigarette butts and a lighter in the basement, employees using cellphones in the kitchen and an ice machine with a "mold like substance."

Right away, Burton showed us the area employees were smoking, on a back trash deck near a garage door. He also explained that the basement area belongs to condos above the restaurant.

"(It was) more of a safety issue. I originally didn't want our female servers smoking a cigarette outside at two in the morning," Burton said.

He installed a security camera and now requires all employees to smoke outside the building.

Burton also showed us a fix to the ice machine, proper handwashing and signs posted inside the kitchen reminding employees of the strict codes for washing hands.

"Maybe we got a little complacent with things and needed a little kick to get back in gear and get on top of our game," Burton said.

Next up, we wanted to know if Chang Fu on 96th Street was back on its game. An employee hung up the phone on us so we showed up with cameras rolling to get answers.

"He's not here," an employee said when we asked for the manager.

We wanted to know about thirteen recent violations, nearly half of them critical. They included "raw beef in tubs on the floor at room temperature," a "power drill and paint mixer used for a mixer" and "medicine, vitamins and cigarettes stored over food on shelves," according to a recent health inspection.

The employee who spoke to us said the owner was in Chicago and a manager wasn't in, refusing to call either of them or show us around.

A manager later called us back, saying she was posting signs to remind employees of the violations and correcting the issues. A third follow-up inspection found some, but not all, violations fixed so an inspector will visit the restaurant again later this month.

Finally on our list this time was Burt's Peppy Grill on the east side.

After an employee refused to connect us to the owner and hung up, we again showed up to get answers. At first, the owner kicked us out.

"I'm not interested," he said.

A few minutes later, though, he approached us outside and decided to let us in.

"You can come in and look, I don't care. I have nothing to hide," owner Burt Willis said.

We wanted to know about seven recent violations, two of them critical. In April, an inspector "observed a (mouse) run across the floor" and told the restaurant to "please clean more frequently," according to an inspection report.

Willis showed us a new door installed out back to keep the mice out and areas that were clearly being cleaned more often.

"Whatever they tell us to do, that’s what we do and we’re on it immediately. There’s no beating around the bush about it," Willis said.

While those restaurants worked to keep things clean, one central Indiana restaurant earned our "Dine 59 Approved" status.

City Barbeque in Greenwood gets our stamp of approval, thanks to nearly perfect reports three years running. Manager Greg Welch showed us around the kitchen, where inspectors frequently noted no violations on their reports.

We asked Welch what the secret formula for clean reports might be.

"We’re passionate about our food and about our people and being a part of our community and just making sure we’re doing the right thing all the time," Welch said.

City Barbeque will receive a "Dine 59 Approved" certificate to display inside their restaurant. If you'd like to see your favorite restaurant receive our distinction, you can now nominate them at the link here.

Tell us about a dirty restaurant you’d like us to look into.

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