5 On Your Side

Gumby's Owner Responds to Restaurant Being Shut Down

Posted October 9, 2007

— The owner of a Raleigh restaurant defended himself Tuesday after his eatery got a sanitation score so low a health inspector immediately shut it down.

Gumby's Pizza was closed last week after scoring a 60.5. The grade was so low it was off the official grade charts. But the owner of Gumby's said he thinks he got a raw deal.

“I feel we've been railroaded,” said Chance Hippler, owner of Gumby’s. “I don't know what the agenda was of the health department. But I know it was a travesty of justice that Gumby's Pizza was shut down."

The Wake County inspector immediately revoked the license of the Hillsborough Street restaurant after a re-inspection on Sept. 28.

The three pages of violations included potentially dangerous food temperatures, food floating in condensation and lots of equipment that needed to be repaired or replaced.

But even though Hippler wasn't there at the time, he does not agree Gumby's deserved that score. He has three problems with the inspection. The first is when it was done.

“[The inspector] came here in the middle of the of the night at midnight,” Hippler said.

His second problem was with the inspector who did the review.

“We got a new inspector [and] we get a 70 followed by a 60.5,” Hippler said.

His third issue was with the way the inspection was done. Considering what was at stake, Hippler said he feels the inspector should have called in a second inspector.

“You fire a nuclear bomb and at least you have two people to turn the key,” he said.

Frances Breedlove is in charge of Wake County restaurant inspectors. She said the whole point of off-hours inspections is that they tend to turn up problems.

“He's been inspected just like everyone else is inspected," Breedlove said. “Anytime they are preparing food or open for business, they are subject to be inspected."

Breedlove said Gumby’s grade was lower because it was a re-inspection. Restaurants lose more points for repeat violations.

“Obviously, it's a lot of violations to get a score that low," she said. "A lot of things he didn't correct on the regular inspection in June needed to be done."

Hippler said his attorney is working to stay the revocation, which could allow him to operate until he goes through the appeal process. Unless he wins that, it's doubtful Gumby's will operate anytime soon.

Once a restaurant is shut down, it has to be brought back up to current building codes before it can re-open. That would be very expensive to do because the building is so old.


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  • validpoint Oct 11, 2007

    I have never eaten at Gumby's, but there are generally other pizza restaraunts to order from, and they carry cheese sticks and such stuff. Give the competition some business.

  • Six String Oct 11, 2007

    "I don't see the problem. I have eaten at restaurants with a score less than 30. I have eaten beside roaches, shared my plate with them and had no problem. Inspectors need to all go to prison and shut up. I get so sick and tired of people telling other businessess what they can and can not do. If a restaurant has a score of 5 and I choose to eat there that is my business. Some of the best restaurants happen to be the nastiest ones. I like nasty food because it has flavor. That inspector should be banned from going to restaurants."

    the above quote is from iamforjustice.

    That's a real winning comment. Check out the other comments, I don't see anyone else who likes unsafe food and roaches in restaurants. You can eat rat poison if you like, the rest of us seem to prefer sanitation and decent food in public places.

  • Heather Oct 11, 2007

    Yuck! My 11 yod would know better than to eat in a place carrying a score lower than 93.

  • doorman888 Oct 11, 2007

    Maybe Chef Gordon Ramsey can make a visit to Gumby's since this is a kitchen nightmare in the workings.

  • lynddsy Oct 11, 2007

    it doesnt matter when or who did the inspection. especially at mid night. the restaurant should be clean and have a few violations that are not worthy of closing. he can protest all he wants but, he needs to clean it up!!

  • mrtwinturbo Oct 11, 2007

    I ate a Wendy's once and then noticed that they got a "C" rating, yuk!! I guess when you get to "D" it stands for Dump?

  • shine Oct 11, 2007

    Thsi guy has had an opportunity since June to get his act together..... I have seen some 85 scores, I had eaten there a long time - they got inspected on the same morning a refrigertation cooler broke down and they were hustling trying to get it fixed and working out of coolers...... literally. The inspector wanted to be contrary...... They were fixed up the next day and back to normal but the inspector refused to reinspect and they had to wear that 85 for about six weeks. Ouch.

    This guy in the article just sounds plain nasty.....

  • Adelinthe Oct 11, 2007

    What a scumbag this guy is and what lousy excuses he's come up with...at 9 am or at midnight, a place should be able to pass an inspection satisfactorily or should be closed, and with this place's scores, it's a wonder it wasn't closed long ago.

    Clean up and stay clean, or go away. This is an enlightened country. We don't need to be eating garbage prepared in a place no cleaner than the inside of a dumpster.

    Thanking God no one has sickened and died from eating there.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Lit Oct 11, 2007

    “We got a new inspector [and] we get a 70 followed by a 60.5,” Hippler said.

    60.5, 70.5...doesn't matter. Scores that low indicate some seriously unsanitary conditions for food preparation. Half the time students were probably too drunk to tell the difference between the beer and the bad pizza, which is probably why Gumby's wasn't shut down sooner...

  • wonbyone74 Oct 10, 2007

    well...first of all...if the inspector came in at midnight....then he should have gotten a better grade...surely they would have been cleaning up to close the store....i worked fast food..i know how the health inspector works...second of all....he didnt get a raw deal...the inspector comes whenever they want...if they made an appointment, of course you would pass cuz you would have been prepared.......