MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Board of Health had moved Wednesday evening to suspend the food license of Chen’s Buffet for 30 days after violations of food handling knowledge and proper sanitation procedures continued. During the lunch rush on Thursday, Chen’s doors were still open with customers coming in and paying for lunch.
When the health department learned of Chen’s operation by a call from the News, Registered Sanitarian Nate Overholt and Health Commissioner Julie Miller went to Chen’s to retrieve the license and turn it over to Knox County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Springer.
“It is our policy that they (Chen’s) were supposed to deliver it to the prosecutor by noon today,” said Overholt. “It is my understanding they were made aware of this.”
Restaurant owner Chen Hui Chen and daughter Shu reportedly have had difficulties understanding the English language, but the two left Wednesday’s meeting after the suspension was handed down along with English translator Adam Landon and attorney Clint Bailey.
Overholt said that he is aware of only one other instance where business owners have had to close a business while language communication was an issue. He stressed that the Chens have been given every opportunity to understand the violations and how to correct them.
“They went to take courses and had translators with them,” said Overholt.
Other instances where language has been a barrier have always had an employee on premises who could communicate, according to Overholt.