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After multiple health code violations, Vesuvio’s, a popular late-night downtown South Bend bar and pizza spot, was fined heavily on Feb. 9. On Jan. 20, the St. Joseph County Health Department discovered a staggering 12 violations, two of which being and five of them having been repeated from prior inspections. And on a pre-announced follow-up visit in early February, nine violations were standing, with four of them critical and five of them repeat offenses.

Finally, on Feb. 2, the St. Joseph County Health Department ordered Vesuvio’s to close in order to make the necessary changes to remain up to code. As of Feb. 9, Vesuvio’s has reopened after a 3 p.m. inspection.

At the hearing that preceded the opening, the department fined the restaurant $350 and placed it under probation, adding an additional $200 fine to the bill.

Owned by Sonja Young and managed by Tim Hines, the restaurant opens at 5 p.m. and stays open until the wee hours of the morning, shutting its doors at 4 a.m.

Of the many problems, the health department officials were troubled by two items in particular: firstly, the restaurant doesn’t have a certified food handler present at the business for majority of its hours.

Additionally, the large amount of soot that was present on the ceiling and walls of the kitchen presented serious fire hazards. According to Hines, the soot problems are due to the kitchen’s exhaust fan. Typically, kitchen exhaust fans need to be cleaned once every three months, and if broken, they need to be repaired immediately. Hines believes that the exhaust fan had been damaged by contractors working above the business, and it took the city several contractor visits to fix it.

Work surface and kitchen equipment in professional kitchen

Hines also posited that since the exhaust fan is positioned near the dumpster, some of the grease from the garbage might have created the soot.

However, since exhaust fans only push air out, not in, health department officials claim this is impossible.