Restaurant cited for deer carcass in kitchen

Saturday, October 27, 2007
The kitchen at La Charreada restaurant in Greencastle was cleared to reopen after health officials confirmed a deer was being gutted there earlier in the week.

La Charreada was packed with customers Friday evening, just hours after the Board of Health allowed the restaurant to reopen after inspectors closed the restaurant down when they found a deer carcass in the kitchen.

This is the second time the Board of Health has closed the Greencastle Mexican restaurant in three years.

Putnam County health inspectors cited the restaurant at 1360 Indianapolis Rd. for bringing a deer into the kitchen and butchering it, using food obtained from an unapproved source, not protecting the food in the kitchen from contamination, allowing the employees to handle the deer and allowing business to continue in the presence of a "gross unsanitary occurrence and condition," according to the inspection report.

Socrates Montano, a district manager and member of the family that owns La Charreada and 32 other Mexican restaurants in Indiana and Arkansas, said the employees who were responsible for bringing the deer into the restaurant have been fired and that the kitchen has been thoroughly cleaned since the carcass was removed. He denied that the employees butchered the deer in the restaurant.

Inspectors said they showed up at La Charreada Wednesday afternoon after they received a complaint about the carcass, said Environmental Health Specialist Darrell Brackney. Montano said the complaint came from an electrician who happened to be in the kitchen at the time.

When they arrived, they found "a few" people, presumably employees, standing around a gutted, headless, skinned deer carcass that was lying on the floor, Brackney said.

Montano said Department of Natural Resources officers who were friends with one of the employees brought the deer, which had been hit and killed by a car, to the restaurant at the request of the employee. That employee and another then carried the deer into the kitchen.

At no point did employees intend to serve venison from the carcass to customers, Brackney said. The employee was, however, butchering the animal on the floor and large pieces of meat had been cut from the carcass, said Brackney and Board of Health Administrator Beth Glaze, both of whom took part in the inspection.

"That is a lie," Montano said of the health department's assertion that employees were butchering the deer.

He said he was not in the restaurant Wednesday, and maintained that the employee was just storing it until he could bring it home..

Brackney said they shut down La Charreada on the spot because it was an "imminent threat to public health."

This was only the fifth restaurant closing in Putnam County that Glaze has seen in her nine years at the Board of Health, she said.

It remained closed for the rest of the day Wednesday and all of Thursday before reopening Friday afternoon.

Health inspectors talked with the owners of the restaurant and made them throw out all food that was in the kitchen when the deer was brought in. They also reinspected the facility before allowing it to reopen.

As a result of the health code violation, La Charreada will be on probation for six months, during which time health inspectors will visit the kitchen once a week to make sure it is staying within health code. The owners also face a fine for the infraction, though the amount has not yet been determined, Glaze said.

In response to the violation, owners fired the two employees who brought the deer into the kitchen and are reviewing security camera tape from the kitchen to determine whether the manager should be fired as well, Montano said.

Both men were waiters and were not responsible for preparing food, he added.

Douglas S. Ehman, a Public Health Coordinator for the county who took part in the follow-up inspection, said he is confident that the restaurant is safe to eat at and that there are no particular precautions that anyone who dined there Wednesday needs to take.

Despite this, Glaze said she would have reservations about taking her family there to eat.

"They would have to gain my trust again because they've lost my trust," she said.

Diners walking into and out of La Charreada Friday evening seemed to take the restaurant's closure in stride.

Doug Elkins and Lyndsay Higgins, who were about to enter La Charreada, said they were unaware of the restaurant's health code violations, but they shrugged off the news and decided to eat there anyway.

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  • I wonder what will happen to the DNR officers?

    Were they going to benefit from the butchering?

    Could they really believe that bring a dead (who knows for how long) animal into a restaurant was a good idea?

    -- Posted by paying attention on Sat, Oct 27, 2007, at 7:39 AM
  • I think that if they're going to fire the restaurant employees, they should also fire the DNR officer!! What was he/she thinking?? Is the Board of Health going to look into that matter also, or overlook it??

    -- Posted by fop13 on Sat, Oct 27, 2007, at 12:04 PM
  • This is pretty disgusting. There is another Mexican Restaurant in town that has no citations. Might want to consider celebrating "The Day of the Dead" there.

    -- Posted by MB on Sat, Oct 27, 2007, at 12:09 PM
  • why else would they have taken it there if not to process it? montano needs to quit denying that.

    -- Posted by keith on Sat, Oct 27, 2007, at 2:04 PM
  • Thank you Darrell Brackney & Beth glaze for bringing this disgusting story to the public's attention. I have not eaten there, nor will I ever now.

    I think the DNR officer should be fired immediately!! What was he thinking? He is supposed to protect people & wildlife! Would he take his family to this restuarant for dinner? He put peoples lives in grave danger! Also, did anyone follow through with where the carcass & other food were destroyed? What did they do with the rest of the deer? Did the DNR officer take it home for a trophy?

    The restuarant should be completely shut down forever!! God help the people @ the other 32 restuarants! SHUT THEM DOWN!!!!!!!!!!

    -- Posted by fourhorses on Sat, Oct 27, 2007, at 6:08 PM
  • I am sure that when the individuals came and got the deer off of the side of the road, the DNR officers had no clue that they were going to bring the deer into the restaurant and harm public health.

    I mean you generally do not get special delivery on road therfore, I do not believe that the DNR officers personally gave the deer to the employees.

    So, the DNR officers should not be fired...

    Maybe the story and comments were misunderstood a little bit. I do not think that DNR should be blamed for this incident.

    Just a little thought...

    -- Posted by wellduh on Sat, Oct 27, 2007, at 8:41 PM
  • They should close the place and fire the DNR officer. This has probably happened before but they never got caught.

    -- Posted by fourhorses on Sun, Oct 28, 2007, at 5:56 AM
  • I just wonder where the deer came from on this same day, I stoped to help someone who had seen a deer hit. The deer was not killed so DNR officers were called in to distroy the deer. I did not stay to witness what happend to the deer after that. Could this have been the same deer? If so there were 2 officers involved in that situation. I thought they were not allowed to give the deer away like that. I agree the employees should be fired, and if the DNR officer did indeed give the deer away maybe they should be punished also. But I think someone should check into this before everyone jumps to the conclusion that the DNR officer is also to blame. They are here to protct not make us sick.

    -- Posted by photography nut on Sun, Oct 28, 2007, at 3:43 PM
  • In the first place from what I gather the employees were at fault for bringing the deer into the kitchen, no fault is placed on the DNR officers for bringing it to them. They did not carry it into the kitchen I'm sure. Stop jumping to conclusions people. The family memeber did all that was needed to correct this problem, but I do disagree with the managers judgement on handling the situation. It never should have happened, but it did and we should be glad that all was righted. And trust in the restaraunt again as usual. Get over it people things happen.

    This is how rumors are started and can ruin lives and relationships. Haven't people learned from past experiences yet? Keep up the good work for all who make this restaraunt the really good place to eat that it is. We appreciate it very much.

    -- Posted by boogerbutter2000 on Mon, Oct 29, 2007, at 12:05 AM
  • That is so WRONG. I will never eat there again. I was never impressed with the place to start with.

    -- Posted by '74tiger on Mon, Oct 29, 2007, at 5:53 AM
  • I will never eat there again. I have no trust in this restaurant or the management.

    -- Posted by northput on Mon, Oct 29, 2007, at 8:44 PM
  • Maybe now this place will get "raided" like the Barnyard did by the feds...

    -- Posted by clearwat on Tue, Oct 30, 2007, at 6:17 AM
  • I imagine that the employees didn't think it would hurt anything since they didn't intend to serve the meat to the customers. They probably had no where else to do it. The DNR person probably knew the employees and knew they could use the meat. My guess is that the employees didn't have a lot of money, now they don't even have a job.

    -- Posted by guesswhonow on Tue, Oct 30, 2007, at 9:18 AM
  • Can I get a list of the other 32 restaurants.

    I also heard that they were caught reusing the left over salsa. Not sure if this is true?

    -- Posted by colts#1fan on Tue, Oct 30, 2007, at 3:20 PM
  • when we heard this, i could not possibly risk my families health by going there again. we went over to old topper steakhouse where we normally have steak or pasta and had the quesadillas. they were awesome!

    -- Posted by averagejoe on Tue, Oct 30, 2007, at 5:52 PM
  • ...the secret to low prices.

    -- Posted by mwchickidea on Wed, Oct 31, 2007, at 7:48 AM
  • It is amazing to me that any group of adults -including the health department people- would panic over a deer carcass. Granted, it should not have been in the kitchen, but such hysteria is entirely childish. What a bunch of wimpy jerks!

    -- Posted by Preacher on Wed, Oct 31, 2007, at 11:37 AM

    -- Posted by Michele1953 on Wed, Oct 31, 2007, at 6:17 PM
  • I am disgusted by this article, and I hear it is not the first "delivery" they have had to the restaurant. I do not plan to return to this place, which is too bad, as we have been there many times, and there are so few places to go in Greencastle.

    -- Posted by mygirlsmomma on Wed, Oct 31, 2007, at 6:53 PM
  • Give the DNR officer a break!!! It IS okay (and legal) for a DNR officer to give roadkill to a family he/she believes is in happens all of the time! I know this and do not really know anything about "rights" and "wrongs" of DNR officers...and NO, I do not know this because I have been the recipient of such a "blessing". Before you jump on the bandwagon think about what you are saying people! Now...if you want to place blame...this restaurant has been given MORE than ample chances to prove themselves...they failed AGAIN!!! They lost my business after the recycled salsa incident ...can you say "hepatitis"??!!

    -- Posted by mkycrzy1971 on Wed, Oct 31, 2007, at 9:12 PM
  • Ok people. I know a deer carcass is probably not the most sanitary thing to bring into a restaurant kitchen... and I think it was inappropriate to do so by the restaurant staff... However - bear in mind that the simple act of making sure employees WASH THEIR HANDS after using the restroom is most likely the largest threat to the general public when going out to eat. There's no reason to panic. I'd eat there again and again! It sounds like the authorities took action right away, and the staff will surely learn from this experience. Something like this could happen anywhere........

    -- Posted by plantqueenie on Thu, Nov 1, 2007, at 12:04 AM
  • I think we all need to grow up; the only thing that was unsanitary about what they did might have been the hair from the deer. The meat was not contaminated. They were butchering the meat on the floor not on the tables and they had NO intentions of feeding it to anyone so whats the big deal. I think we all need to lay off of the DNR all they did was issue a permit for the animal; everything DNR did was legal!!! All you people need to get over it, its not as if your BEEF has been any better; are you going to stop eating everywhere?? How many recalls have been called on for beef?? How many for deer?? You do the math.

    -- Posted by JDG1980 on Thu, Nov 1, 2007, at 10:35 AM
  • The more I think about this story the more disgusted i become. What kind of people are running this place, even if they weren't planning on serving the deer meat to customers, this is a restaurant not a slaughter house. There are certain cleaning techniques to all surfaces that must be done after gutting an animal, even if it was done on the floor. These people were still in the kitchen with the food they were serving, were they washing their hands? I havent eaten here since the incident with reusing salsa, this is a dirty place,what will it take to close this place or find people who know how to run it safely for the city?

    -- Posted by iumcrn on Sun, Nov 4, 2007, at 1:12 AM
  • i will eat there again there food is way better than that other mexican restruant its so nasty,and you people should look at all the restraunts that have been citied ,you'd change your mind about them ,like cloverdale truck stop 13 critical ,no i dont think the employees should have been fired they made a mistake and yes that dnr guy eats there all the time ,he took the deer there ,get over it .you can get sick from breathing air are you going to stop that so you wont get sick grow up

    -- Posted by katjr1010 on Mon, Nov 5, 2007, at 12:04 PM
  • I can't believe there are people on here defending anyone in this situation, except the health officials. I don't run or own a restaurant, but I am smart enough to know or even remotely think that it would be ok to take any wild animal carcass into that restaurant kitchen and cut it up, even for my own personal use ( if we believe that)That is completely gross and unsanitary. I have a friend that butchers deer for a living and he has a complete kitchen set up IN HIS BARN, and even that is probably more sanitary than this restaurant kitchen. The sad thing is- is that I really liked this restaurant, and I was finally able to go back after the salsa incident with the thought that they learned their lesson, but apparently not. I won't be eating there again, nor will I refer anyone to eat there, and if you defend this situation, I hope you are not a friend of mine that might invite me over for dinner????

    -- Posted by just wondering on Wed, Nov 7, 2007, at 12:43 PM
  • i think we have heard enough about this story. obviously the restaurant needs to evaluate their ways of doing business. i enjoyed their food, but enough is enough. yes we have many things that can be harmful, but when its right in front of you are you going to take a bite or refuse it? Food for thought-plantqueenie

    -- Posted by chicagogirl on Wed, Nov 14, 2007, at 8:42 PM
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