The Summer House is facing new sanctions after the Health Department discovered dog feces in its commercial kitchen during a follow-up inspection late last month.
The unsavory finding comes just weeks after the popular hotel and bistro in Sconset was shut down by the town one day before it was scheduled to open for the season for failing inspections conducted by town departments. The Nantucket Fire Department's fire prevention officer Kevin Ramos concluded that the property was in “imminent danger.”
After all that, the Health Department's chief environmental health officer John Hedden returned to The Summer House on June 22 for an unscheduled inspection and found the dog feces on the floor of the business's commercial kitchen.
"In my whole career, this is the first time I've found pet feces in a commercial kitchen," Santamaria said. "They're just showing us they’re not following the rules we’ve asked them to follow."
Santamaria added that The Summer House has failed to provide an explanation for how the dog feces got inside the establishment's kitchen.
"Nobody has taken responsibility," Santamaria said.
The discovery of dog feces and other newly discovered issues - such as a required mop sink that was removed and standing water in a drain behind the building - combined with all the prior violations prompted the Health Department to issue a notice of non-renewal for The Summer House's food permits.
"That means we're simply not going to renew it," Santamaria said. "They have to start from scratch like a new restaurant."
Danielle deBenedictis, the owner of The Summer House, issued the following statement in response to an inquiry from the Current about the Health Department's enforcement action and the dog feces found in the kitchen:
"The unscheduled visit by the Health Department happened at a construction site and non-operational restaurant site," deBenedictis stated. "The kitchen was non-functional with no food preparation or employees. Therefore It is impossible to have a health code violation on a non-operating kitchen in a closed restaurant. I want to thank the members of the town building department and Inspection services who have been working with our contractors to ensure that all is in compliant with every code so we can open as soon as possible. Our main goal is to open the door to the residents and summer visitors who come to Nantucket to enjoy this historical and beloved property that creates lifelong memories for so many. We are willing to work together and make every effort to continue this tradition.
deBenedictis has been in the news recently as a central figure in the ongoing saga of the proposed clam shack restaurant on Straight Wharf, as she represents billionaire Charles Johnson in his opposition to the 62-seat restaurant next door to property he owns on Old North Wharf. She has argued on behalf of Johnson that the clam shack was not properly permitted.
The June 27 notice of non-renewal to The Summer House specifies six specific restaurant violations and another four violations at The Summer House bistro.
These alleged violations include:
- loose tobacco and rolling of cigarettes in the kitchen food storage area
- toxic and poisonous materials stored with food
- plumbing and gas work done without permits
- dog feces found on the floor in the kitchen
- dog feces found in the kitchen is evidence of animals not being prohibited from being allowed in the food establishment
- numerous repeat violations over the years for improper food storage, including food stored on the floor, raw meats stored above vegetables, and food stored next to toxic and poisonous materials
- backup of sewage behind the building resulting in a pond of raw sewage
- excessive trash, lack of deep cleaning of kitchen, excessive pool, and paint liquids observed behind Bistro.
"Due to these violations," Hedden wrote, "the Nantucket Health Department has determined that issuing food establishment permits to your establishments poses a risk to public health and safety."