Three weeks after it was closed for health safety violations, the Vien Dong restaurant in Tacoma can reopen as early as Friday if it passes a required inspection and meets other conditions.
A representative for the family said they’re looking forward to serving customers again.
“Vien Dong and its staff are committed to creating and maintaining a healthy restaurant for its customers,” said Peter Lamb, a family member representing Vien Dong co-owners Thuy-Linh Nguyen and Kevin Le, wife and husband.
“They respect the health department. They respect the process. They look forward to a reinspection and the possibility of reopening, which would be based on the health department’s confidence in the health and safety standards of the restaurant.”
The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department has cited Vien Dong for critical food safety violations 46 times since April 2015.
Among the violations were not keeping cold food at 41 degrees or below, failure to keep temperature logs, not rinsing fruits and vegetables before preparation and service, storing raw meats and eggs incorrectly and not cooling cooked food quickly in a refrigerator.
The Health Department ordered Vien Dong closed for six months on May 3 after the restaurant at 3801 S. Yakima Ave. failed its third re-inspection while on probation for health safety violations.
The restaurant appealed the closure and a hearing with the health department was held May 17 and a decision issued the following day.
When on probation, a restaurant must pass five inspections. This was the second closure for the restaurant this year. The Health Department closed it for seven days in March.
A restaurant closure of this type is rare, and is the only one of its kind in the last five years, according to the Health Department.
The restaurant has operated in the Lincoln District since 1989 and is a regional favorite for pho and other Vietnamese specialties. For many longtime locals, the restaurant was the first taste of Vietnamese cuisine in the area.
Nguyen’s parents founded the restaurant and she is the second generation owner of the restaurant. She runs the restaurant’s daily operations alongside Le.
The Health Department’s conditions for reopening include passing another inspection. Additionally, the restaurant must:
▪ Hire staff members “in sufficient number” to wait or bus tables.
▪ New hires must obtain a food handler’s card.
▪ A kitchen manager must be identified and assigned to maintain food safety.
▪ Kitchen refrigeration must be repaired or replaced.
▪ Daily temperature logs for each refrigerator must be completed and maintained.
The release continued, “The owner acknowledged he understood the seriousness of the safety violations food inspectors observed over the past four years and committed to make immediate changes to meet safety standards.”
Lamb said the family has been working diligently.
“The restaurant, the whole family, the staff, they’re all focused on getting things right,” he said. “They’re focused on working with the health department to make sure the restaurant’s ready to reopen.”