A bad health inspection report has led a Fredericton restaurant owner to overhaul how he operates his restaurant.
Adam Luo, the owner of Thai Manao in the Corbett Centre, was forced to close his restaurant last month after a health inspector found 16 health-code violations.
Luo said many of those infractions, including meat that was stored at an improper temperature, were the result of cultural differences.
"We wanted to preserve the authenticity of the food. So we hired chefs from Asia," Luo said.
"Obviously there's culture differences and also there's differences in practices between here and there so there's a gap. And I think that is the major reason why the improper behaviours were found and it was closed down."
In the three days Thai Manao was closed, Luo estimates he lost up to $8,000 in revenue.
Krista Ross, chief executive officer of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, said closures, such as the one that happened to Luo, can be good for a business in the long run.
"There's lost revenues, so that can have an impact on a business for certain,” she said.
“But, I think, overall it gives the business an opportunity to fix things that weren't right and look at their practices and make sure they're doing things that are good and safe for consumers.”
It was an opportunity Luo didn't miss out on.
After he was given the notice, he gathered his staff and started fixing where they had gone wrong.
"I stopped everything and I just told them we need to rethink this. You probably think you just clean your kitchen and then you reopen but you have to change your mentality,” he said.
“I just assembled everybody and asked how this happened. We talked about what we did right, what we did wrong and what things should we improve and through this process we started throwing things out and buying new things and cleaning things out and then we reopened."
8 restaurant licences pulled
Of 8,175 inspections done in the region in 2012-2013, only eight licences were revoked by the Department of Health.
One of the major problems at Thai Manao, said Scott MacLean, the regional director of health protection for the department’s central region, was that at the time the health inspector came, there were no employees present with the food safety training and certification.
Luo is having all his employees certified and the course has even been made available in Mandarin and Cantonese by the province’s Office of Public Health.
'The health department is doing their job, we're doing our job. We could have done our job better but through this closure I think we're better off.' - Adam Luo, owner of Thai Manao
"I think it's really important that any business in the food industry has to adhere to strict and rigorous regulations to make sure that consumers are safe and we can all feel safe knowing that that's the case," said Ross.
"So it's certainly a challenge when people are new comers to because there might be a bit of a language barrier or a bit of a difference in how they've done things in the past but that's part of the learning curve and part of the experience they have of opening a business in any new place."
Luo has been involved in the Chamber of Commerce's Business Immigrant Mentorship Program that helps several immigrant run businesses get going.
He's made all the appropriate changes and since put up signs in his kitchen in both languages telling employees where to wash their hands and how to store food and at what temperatures.
"Everyone is doing their job," said Luo.
"The health department is doing their job, we're doing our job. We could have done our job better but through this closure I think we're better off. We don't want to get our customers sick and nobody has been sick in our restaurants ever. We've done well and we could be better and we're trying."