Health concerns close another popular sushi restaurant – temporarily

Local News

More trouble for a popular sushi chain.

The Ala Moana Center location of Genki Sushi was closed for a few hours this week during a routine health inspection.

It seems like more restaurants are getting flagged. 

Despite appearances, inspectors would rather not force restaurants to close.

The problem at the Ala Moana Genki Sushi Thursday was a floor drain that was backing up, according to the inspection report.

Peter Oshiro, manager, of the Dept. of Health’s Environmental Health Program says, “In a restaurant setting, a lot of times with floor drains, or sink drains, they’ll get backed up, and if it backs up into the sink or if it backs up out of the floor drain, and onto the food preparation floor area, that’s grounds for immediate closure.”

The red placard closure only lasted two hours. A plumber was there at the same time as the inspector and as soon as the problem was fixed and the floor was cleaned — the restaurant was reopened.

However, the inspector also found that a refrigerator was not cold enough for safe storage of ahi and other foods. A yellow placard was issued, pending a follow-up inspection Monday.

We contacted Genki Sushi and officials did not comment on the Ala Moana store.

Its Kailua-Kona location remains closed following a cockroach infestation discovered last month. The company says it will reopen after a thorough pest control treatment and cleaning — but doesn’t say when.

Oshiro says inspectors’ main job is to ensure that eateries are operating safely, to protect public health.

“My staff is trained to make sure they enforce with education first. So any type of violation, the whole object is to get voluntary and rapid compliance, so we’re not out to close people down, and we’re not out to fine people.”

Oshiro invites you to be an extension of the health inspection team’s eyes and ears.

“We always will depend on the public to, any type of complaint that they see, endangering their health, we will investigate all complaints … usually within one to two days.”

Oshiro says insects and rodents are clear reasons to complain — but floors, walls and ceilings are not.

What if it’s just cold gravy?

“If the gravy on their loco moco is really cold, you need to call us because that means they’re either not adequately heating the product, or it’s not being held at proper temperatures, so temperature control items are things that we really need to know about. Those sorts of things actually can make you sick.” Warm macaroni salad could also make you sick, he says.

Oshiro also says any restaurant employee who has suffered from vomiting or diarrhea within the previous 72 hours is required by law to report their illness to their employer — and that the employer must not allow the person to work.

“Employees have to be restricted from work for things that you won’t see., which is vomiting and diarrhea in the last 72 hours. If you had any bouts of that, the law says that they have to report it to the owners and they’re not allowed to work.”

With restaurants desperate for workers, and low-wage-earners needing hours, it is not easy, but Oshiro says it is necessary for public safety.

“That is one of the major causes of foodborne illness outbreaks, is usually traced back to, a lot of times, employees that are ill, and they reported to work, and then now you’ve infected every single customer out there.”

You can check out recent restaurant inspections here:

And if you see a possible health violation in a food service establishment, here are island-by-island numbers to call.

Oahu – Sanitation Branch: 586-8000
Hilo – District Health Office: 933-0917
Kona – Sanitation Branch: 322-1507
Maui – District Health Office 984-8230
Kauai – District Health Office: 241-3323

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