May 19, 2022

go health

South Bend restaurant on probation after repeated health violations

SOUTH BEND — A local restaurant will remain on probation after St. Joseph County health inspectors found repeated violations that included rodent droppings and raw eggs that had risen to unsafe temperatures.

The owner of Bendix Restaurant, 1529 Miami St., was summoned to a hearing with St. Joseph County Health Department officials this week to discuss violations that continued after the restaurant was placed on probation in August.

Oscar Dominguez, the son of owner Jose Dominguez and manager of the Bendix Restaurant location on Western Avenue, said the issues stemmed largely from staffing problems.

“After COVID happened, we found ourselves extremely short-staffed, we pulled all our resources over to our busiest location, which is Western Avenue, and left Miami extremely short-handed,” Oscar Dominguez said in an interview. “That’s no excuse, but it caused the issues that were found, and we’re just trying to go fix them as much as we can.”

Bendix Restaurant is the third local food establishment to be called to a health officer hearing since June, after the South Bend Tribune found the St. Joseph County Health Department had all but ceased publicly enforcing violations by restaurants in recent years.

The Tribune found the health department had not called restaurants to public hearings even in cases of serial violations, opting instead to discuss the problems in private meetings with management. In some cases, the decision not to hold a health officer hearing contradicted the county’s own health ordinance.

In 2016, Bendix Restaurant’s Western Avenue location was fined and temporarily closed after inspectors found similar repeated problems, including mouse droppings, foods at unsafe temperatures and raw meat stored near vegetables and cooked chicken.