Vien Dong, a popular Vietnamese restaurant in Tacoma’s Lincoln District, has been shuttered after repeated health violations.
The six-month closure was ordered Wednesday after an inspection by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department found several problems, including meat being stored at too-warm temperatures.
The restaurant has racked up 46 critical food safety violations since April 22, 2015. While on probation for five months, it failed three inspections.
This is only the second time in five years an eating establishment in Pierce County has reached this point.
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“We don’t take closing a restaurant for any period of time lightly,” said Edie Jeffers, a Health Department spokeswoman. “We took this action to protect the public’s health.”
The owners, Thuy-Linh Nguyen and her husband Kevin Le, can appeal the closure’s length of time.
A sign posted on the front door of Vien Dong said the restaurant was closed for the remainder of the week because of a wedding in the family.
They could not be reached for comment Friday.
Vien Dong opened at South 38th and Yakima in 1989 and helped pho (a Vietnamese soup) become well-loved in the city.
Nguyen’s parents opened the Lincoln District restaurant, and she continued to serve the same dishes at nearly the same prices when she took it over.
Issues with food safety seemed to arise two years ago. Among the violations are:
▪ Storing food at room temperature.
▪ Not keeping food at 41 degrees or below.
▪ Not using bare hands with food that has already been prepared.
▪ Not rinsing fruits and vegetables before preparation and service.
▪ Not storing raw meats and eggs below and away from ready-to-eat food.
▪ Not cooling cooked food quickly in a refrigerator.
Health Department inspectors said they have spent 41 hours working with the restaurant since April 2015, making educational visits and developing plans to fix food safety violations.
Still, Vien Dong continued to incur health violations.
The Health Department first ordered a one-day closure in July. Two more followed in December. Then a weeklong closure in March. After a third failed inspection Wednesday, health officials ordered Vien Dong to close its doors.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653
Here’s how often the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department ordered temporary closures of food establishments:
Six-month closures: Twice since 2012.
Seven-day closures: Once in 2017, none last year
24-hour closures: Six times this year, nine times in 2016.
Educational visits, which occur before a 24-hour closure: 17 times this year, 48 times in 2016.