Of 178 eateries, just six in Washington County have health scores below 90

Jonathan Roberts • Jun 30, 2019 at 5:59 PM

Editor’s note: The Tennessee Department of Health’s restaurant inspection website failed to list the follow-up inspection for Ole’s Guacamoles in its comprehensive list of published reports. A follow-up was conducted on Jan. 7, the same day as the routine inspection, and the restaurant received a score of 95.

There are nearly 200 restaurants and eateries Washington County, and nearly all of them have health scores above 90, with most in the 98 to 100 range. Just six in the entire county have scores lower than 90, of those, however, four had scores below 85.

A majority of health violations found by inspectors were corrected on site, though some violations, including unsafe food handling methods; improper hand washing techniques; unsanitary food preparation areas; and, in one case, rodents, insects or animals present in the kitchen.

The restaurants with the lowest scores were:

  • Ruby Tuesday, 1208 W. Harris Road, 74
  • Ole’s Guacamoles, 1000 S. Roan St., 78
  • Shoney’s, 2120 N. Roan St., 79
  • Crazy Tomato, 203 Princeton Road, 81

The Tennessee Department of Health says there’s not a “pass or fail” score, but most people consider under 70 to be failing. More serious violations, which include food and cooking temperature violations, cross contamination, non-hygienic practices and food from improper sources, can cost a restaurant a five-point deduction off its score, though most violations only result in one or two point deductions.

The inspections for the restaurants above, which were conducted March 26, Jan. 7, April 15 and March 8, respectively, showed that all four had violations stemming from improper sanitation methods. Three of those restaurants — Ruby Tuesday, Ole’s Guacamoles and Shoney’s — required follow-up inspections that had not yet been published as of this writing.

Still, 99.8% of area restaurants have scores higher than 85. That number is even higher if you expand it to include breweries, which are also inspected, but not counted among the area’s 178 restaurants and food trucks.

“Anything in the 90s, you’ve obviously done a really good job, and anything in the 80s is not bad, but as far as good or bad, I can’t really say,” said Mark Tenpenny, assistant director for environmental health at the Department of Health.

That doesn’t mean that Washington County is one of Tennessee’s more healthy counties, however.

“Some counties have more ‘complex restaurants,’ where there’s more food preparation that goes through special processes, it really depends on the county and what type of the restaurants there are in the area,” Tenpenny said in explaining Washington County’s high average score.

Tenpenny said patrons can report violations through a variety of methods, including email (tn.health.gov), calling local health departments or calling 800-293-8228 to report a violation or food-borne illness.