Behind Kitchen Doors: Inside a Health Dept. New Restaurant Inspection

Local News

Many people dream of opening their own restaurant. But, it takes much more than perfecting a favorite recipe. A lot has to happen before the food can ever hit your plate.


We’re once again going behind kitchen doors to see what goes into a new restaurant’s inspection.


“We’re going have thin and crispy pizza, it’s homemade dough, it’s homemade sauce…” Soon-to-be Owner of Shelton’s Great Food and Drinks Restaurant, Matt Weaver, said.


Weaver is preparing to open Shelton’s Great Food and Drinks Restaurant in West Peoria and he’s no stranger to the industry. 


“My family’s been in the restaurant business my whole life my parents, my grandparents, and um I’ve got yeah a little bit of experience.” Weaver said.


But Shelton’s is his baby, a long time dream, although the dream doesn’t go quite as far back as the restaurant’s namesakes, the Shelton Brothers Gang.


“These guys were into bootlegging and gambling in Peoria in the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s and we just figured with all the history that we’d name it Shelton’s kind of tell their stories on the walls.” Weaver explained.


But as Weaver is finding out, opening a restaurant is much more than good pizza and a catchy name.


Peoria County Environmental Health Practitioner, Corine Smith, says consultations with the health department for prospective restraunteurs should start months before construction ever does.


“We like to be involved from the very beginning. One of the biggest mistakes people make is they come to us after they’ve finished construction and they say ‘How do I get a license?’ and they think it’s a very simple like one or two day process, it’s not.” Smith explained.


The health department works with the establishment to create a Plan Review Application, a roadmap to guide future owners from the idea phase to opening day. 


“They can kind of get their ducks in a row right away versus ‘We want to open we’ve already done all of this’ maybe it wasn’t done correctly.” Smith said.


The Peoria County Health Department did 112 plan reviews in 2016. Of that, only 2 didn’t go through with opening their restaurant.


Running a restaurant kitchen is a far cry from your home kitchen, which is why the health department works with owners in advance, all with the goal of setting them up for success.


“If you don’t have hand-washing sinks we can’t expect you to wash your hands correctly during your routine inspection or during your normal business, so this is kind of the foundation of getting things correct in the future.” Smith said.


“I think you see some of the shows like Bar Rescue and Kitchen Nightmares and some of those you hear about people they say they like to eat and they like to drink and they’ve always wanted to have their own restaurant and they thought why not but there’s more to it than just cooking and everything.” Weaver said.


This future restaurant owner offers a little piece of advice, his own recipe for success.


“I’d suggest taking our time and doing it right.” Weaver said.


For more information on your favorite restaurant’s latest health inspection click here.  

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