Restaurant Report 101: Zapoteca turns a fail into perfection, Olive Cafe gets an A


Portland (WGME) -- Zapoteca is an enticing addition to Fore St. and the payoff for Executive Chef and Owner Shannon Bard, a hard working Mother of five who went to culinary school when her youngest entered kindergarten.
Zapoteca serves contemporary Mexican dishes full of flavor and spice. The restaurant has a nearly perfect record with health inspectors, but in November, staff failed an inspection.
The inspector noted, "food employees are handling ready to eat foods with bare hands."
"This happened to be with a raspberry." said Bard. "He was pouring it from one container to another and wasn't wearing gloves, and even though he wasn't touching them, there could have been an opportunity for him to have to touch them."
The inspector also cited, "the walk-in temperature" which was too warm per state law.
"We had just had our repair man in the day before and because our produce was frozen so we tweaked the temperature up ever so slightly," said Bard.
Bard installed new thermometers and quickly turned a fail back into perfection.
The inspector went back to re-evaluate and noted, "all violations from previous inspections were corrected."
"We take pride in running a really clean establishment," said Bard.
Inside The Olive Cafà on Commercial St. you can't help but feel like part of the family.
"One of the things that sets us apart is just welcoming a lot of customers by name, " said owner Charlotte Elkhatib.
The restaurant serves traditional Middle Eastern meals Chef and Owner Rayan Elkhatib learned growing up in Lebanon.
"Home made grape leaves, hand rolled with rice, tomatoes, parsley and lemon juice," said Elkhatib.
When he's not cooking, Elkhatib says he's making sure everything is spotless, "I feel like we owe it to our customers, our employees."
Rest assured, the kids are eating in a safe environment. When a Health Inspector stopped by in November for a surprise inspection, they didn't find any problems, making The Olive Cafà this week's Gold Plate Award Winner.
"We are very, very happy about that," said Elkhatib.
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