Whitehorse restaurant owners want inspection reports tweaked

A Whitehorse couple says a negative health inspection report on their restaurant is unfair, and is scaring away customers.

Inspection reports scaring off customers, dissatisfied couple says

Dave Gingras and Susan Keleher said they've put a lot into starting their Whitehorse restaurant and don't want to see what they feel are unfair inspection reports ruin it for them. (CBC)

The owners of a Whitehorse "mom and pop" operation want changes made to the way restaurant health inspections are reported on a Yukon government website.

Susan Keleher and Dave Gingras opened Susan's Place restaurant on the Alaska Highway in Whitehorse about nine months ago.

Keleher says it's a struggle to establish a business, but she's proud of their restaurant — including its cleanliness.

That's why she was stunned when a customer told her they wouldn't have come into the restaurant based on the negative health inspection, if a friend hadn't talked her into it.

"Hearing from people that they're not going to come here because of what they're reading is what's really upsetting," Keleher said.

The government began putting the reports online earlier this month.

Keleher and Gingras believe the bad impression came from a September inspection that found several infractions. They insist the problems were relatively minor, but feel the report left the impression their restaurant is unsanitary and risky.

Susan Keleher said she'd 'eat off the sink' in her restaurant's washroom. (CBC)

The violations included wooden shelving that needed to be painted or lined, using well water that isn't tested to the health department's standards, and needing a screen installed on a back door, they said.

The restaurateurs also refuse to ensure their septic field tank is pumped out every six months. Gingras believes it's not necessary, and should be the responsibility of the person they lease the building from.

Gingras said he's not against the inspection reports being public, he just feels they're too "vague". He said the online report doesn't make it clear that the only outstanding issue from the September report is the sewage tank.

"I thought the Yukon government was here to promote small business, not trash them and make it so people don't want to go to the business. Because they aren't going to be willing to pay loss of revenue," Gingras said.

The Yukon Health and Social Services department does not comment on specific inspections or businesses, but the inspection reports contain a disclaimer that cautions people against making judgements based on a single report.

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