By Juan Montoya
Following a visit from the Brownsville City Health Department and receiving a report citing violations, the owners of the Oyster Bar II quickly corrected the perceived problems and 13 days later, a surprise visit from the inspector gave them a clean bill of health.
"We thought it was all done with," said former Brownsville commissioner and mayor Henry Gonzalez. "But then the broadcast on Channel 4 was aired and it made it seem like there was all kinds of things wrong here."
The newscast had made it seem like there was an infestation of rodents leaving droppings all over the kitchen and bathroom areas, Gonzalez said. However, he said that the photos that were disseminated on air weren't in the kitchen, the bathroom or dining areas at all.
We looked at the place where Gonzalez said a photo – allegedly showing widespread rodent contamination – was taken and confirmed that it was the very top shelf where brooms, extra fluorescent bulbs and other cleaning supplied were kept. Dust from the ceiling and specks of dirt were the only things visible on Monday.
Still, we understand that blowing up a picture of a shelf and making it appear like it was a photo of an entire floor makes for good television. But as a struggling businessman, with faithful employees and a restaurant known for having a sterling reputation of cleanliness, it clearly bothered the former mayor.
"My employees and my customers know how strict I am about keeping everything clean," he said as he glanced about the still-empty dining area. "You have to climb up the top of a ladder just to get to that
shelf, no one could even reach that high. Who knows how long stuff had accumulated up there."
The fact that the report was aired even after the violations had been corrected is the most unkindest cut of all, say Gonzalez's friends.
"If anything, Henry is fastidious about keeping the place clean," said one. "I have seen him sold some of his employees if they as much as drop a fork on the floor. To broadcast the photos of a problem that no longer exists and then post them all over the web is really unfair."