Restaurant owner's alleged verbal, physical abuse causes closure - KCTV5

Restaurant owner's alleged verbal, physical abuse cause for closure

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It wasn't a food sanitation issue that closed the restaurant C. Withers Express, but rather the behavior of its owner.

A Kansas City, MO, health inspector was on a second visit to the restaurant at 35th Street and Prospect Avenue on March 27 when things got heated with the owner, Robert Bryant.

"As it escalated, the permit holder threw the paperwork and hit the inspector in the face with the paperwork," said Jeff Hershberger, a spokesman for the health department.

The health department said the inspector found C. Withers Express didn't have enough properly trained food handlers on duty and that a third inspection would be needed. It was then that Bryant allegedly made verbal attacks against the inspector.

"In our food code we do have a clause that allows for closure as a result of an unsafe situation or a hostile situation," Hershberger said.

Veteran health department workers said they aren't restaurant owners' favorite guests, but it almost never escalates to the point of verbal and physical attacks.

Bryant wasn't at the business Tuesday and didn't return KCTV5's emails for comment. Because the health department said he wouldn't sign off on better behavior, he'll be out of business.

"We need assurances from the permit holder that the inspector will be safe the next time he or she goes into the situation," Hershberger said.

Bryant has nine days to request a hearing on his loss of permit or else he will have to wait six months before reapplying. The health department said it takes a zero tolerance approach to behavior like what he exhibited.

Hershberger said he's been with the health department for six years and he can only think of two other times when things have escalated and an inspector has been verbally or physically attacked. He said, in both of those situations, the restaurant owners eventually cooled down and promised the department they would stay calm.

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