In a college town such as Hamden, businesses need to adapt to the needs and demands of their audience. Many restaurants have adapted and have become dual-purpose restaurants that double as bars at night. These establishments get rated and inspected as class four facilities.
Many things are looked at during health inspections. For example, the inspector makes sure foods are properly stored and not left out for too long, that there are not bugs and/or rodents, and that utensils and tools that touch food and drink are cleaned and handled properly.
With traditional food establishments, the environment stays relatively constant. With restaurants that double as bars, most of the time it is a family friendly, fun and calm place, but once the kids go to bed, the college kids come out to play. These family friendly and nice environments can turn into an out of control party for young drunk college aged kids.
One of these such places in Hamden in Aunt Chiladas, or better known to Quinnipiac Students as Aunchies. This Mexican restaurant with quirky decorations and homey feel has an alternate personality. Friday night Aunchies is known to Quinnipiac students as the go to place on a Friday night once you turn 21. With specials on certain drinks and a new theme every week, Aunchies is crawling with drunken college students who want to party. But how does all this partying affect the cleanliness and safety of Aunt Chiladas?
Aunchies, like all other class 4 facilities, are inspected during business hours, meaning Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. and get inspected four times a year. From September of 2015 to March of 2017 Aunchies has gone from a ‘C’ rating to an ‘A’ rating. Why?
According the September 2015 inspection sheet, Aunchies was in violation of many of the health code regulations. Some of these include bugs and flies in areas where food is held, no paper towels, no soap, and dirty coolers to store food and drink, along with other things. In the most recent inspection one of the only major things they were marked down for was that their hot water system was broken. The management at Aunt Chiladas was not available to comment.
If you ask any Quinnipiac student that has been to Aunchies on a Friday night odds are they will all say the same things. While it’s a fun party place for them to go, it’s like any other bar or club, crowded and dirty. The bathrooms rarely have toilet paper or paper towels, the floors and bar tops are covered in dirt and alcohol, and no one is taking time to clean anything. These differences between the daytime restaurant and the nighttime bar beg multiple questions. At Quinnipiack Public Health District, inspectors’ say that they have to trust that establishments are up to par at all times.
“We don’t tell restaurants when we are coming in to make sure that they aren’t just making sure everything is perfect for that one day.” One of the inspectors explained, “We would expect that they keep their facilities clean and up to code at all times.”
The letters are there as a way to keep these places in check, and many people say they will not eat at a place that does not have an ‘A’ rating. Upon speaking with former Quinnipiac students who frequented Aunchies on Friday nights, many of them paid no mind to the letter on the door.
“When I was a senior I went every night and I didn’t even know they had a rating, let alone a ‘C’ rating,” said alumni Ally Stephan. “No one cared how gross it was, we were just there for a good time, and odds are we were the ones making it gross in the first place.”