Restaurant Ratings Gets Rare Look Behind Kitchen Doors

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - This week, we’re cooking up something a little different for our Restaurant Ratings segment. We got a rare look at what goes on behind those kitchen doors. We went inside Drake’s on Whitesburg Drive where the staff turned a score that didn’t cut the mustard into one they’re proud to display now.

Brandon True is one of the managers at Drake’s. He’s been in the bar and restaurant business for 16 years. “This is the first time I’ve ever had a bad grade in my building,” he told us. Six weeks ago, the health inspector gave Drake’s a score of 79 because some of the food wasn’t at the right temperature and some of the bread baskets had broken wires and prongs. “We were very embarrassed but we took it to heart and we really took the opportunity to look at the positives,” Brandon said. “We really wanted to take it and say hey, this is what we do on a daily basis. We had a few things that we needed to fix.”

And they did. They replaced the baskets and focused on educating the staff so the problems don’t happen again. Brandon says, “If there’s something that looks like it is broken, chipped or anything like that, we want to go ahead and throw it away.” Managers and staff need to be on the same page. Brandon added, “It’s about everybody in the building knowing exactly what is needed at all times to ensure safe food and making sure that we don’t have broken equipment.”

Cold food needs to be kept at 41 degrees or below. And hot food needs to be 140 degrees or higher. “That’s correct and we like to keep ours at 165 and above,” says True. At that temperature, bacteria can’t survive. Each manager has a thermometer so they can make sure food is at the proper temperature.  Brandon added, “The cooks also carry a thermometer so they can be part of the process. Again, it’s not about one person it’s about the whole staff knowing what’s needed to happen.” And if something is found to not be at a safe temperature? “We’ve found a really good place for it and it’s called the trash can,” said True. “We put it right in the trash because it’s no longer holding our standards.”

You won’t find a dirty ice machine at Drake’s. Employees clean it daily. And what about the water inside the bottle they used to clean your table? “Every two hours we change all the water in the building. We change the sanitizer in the triple sink. We change the sanitizer in the buckets for each station. We also change the dish water and we test it,” True told us.

Brandon True is proud of the rating his team scored on the latest inspection. They’re not shooting for that perfect 100! “We would love to have that golden spoon award,” True said with a smile. And when they get it, True says he’s going to have a party for the staff. The team at Drake’s has an opening and closing checklist they go through every day to make sure they’re doing things right. Keep in mind, these businesses don’t know when the health inspector is going to walk in so they have to be on their game each and every day.

1 Comment

  • Linda Marks Rogers

    I wish every restaurant in Huntsville and the surrounding area operated their establishment like Drake’s is doing. Maybe we wouldn’t have the problems that we do. Kudo’s to you Drake’s. You deserve the Golden Spoon every week!!

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