May 9 RESTAURANT REPORT: smoking in the kitchen

Long before the state banned smoking in restaurants, it had already banned smoking in restaurant kitchens. That's so your food won't be contaminated by the cigarettes or smoke. When a health inspector wrote up a restaurant for smoking in the kitchen, we went straight over.

It happened, according to inspection reports, in the kitchen of Pho Boston, 9125 West Broad Street in Henrico. The restaurant had 5 critical violations, including that an ashtray and cigarette butt were on the floor next to the walk-in cooler where an employee was taking a smoke break.

The manager spoke with us through a translator and assured us that all the violations, including the smoking, have been corrected.

Next up, Riverbound Café at 8005 Creighton Parkway in Hanover. It had 8 critical violations, including that an employee handled raw steak then bread without changing gloves. We went in and talked with the manager. He later told us by phone that some newer employees made mistakes, but that they've been retrained and all problems were fixed. He says the Health Department trains inspectors at Riverbound, and they usually earn better scores.

Finally, Pietro's Pizza at 2601 Osborne Road in Chesterfield had 4 critical violations. Among them, the inspector wrote that soap was not being used during some hand washing. All issues were corrected for a perfect score on the follow-up inspection a week later.

The Café inside the Midlothian Apothecary Watkins Centre earns this week's NBC12 Hall of Fame Award. It may be small, but this full service restaurant has been serving breakfast and lunch while earning perfect scores on it's health inspections.

Said manager Liza Cox, "We grow our own herbs. We have fresh fruit brought in daily. Salads are made fresh every morning. We have homemade wheat and sourdough bread. It smells wonderful in the kitchen, it brings the folks in."