Roaches, blood on food, earn Knoxville restaurant unusually low inspection score

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - A Knoxville restaurant gets slapped with one of the lowest health inspections ever in Knox County. That's according to the County Health Department.

Mandarin House scored 37 out of 100 during last week's inspection.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy's has the latest.

With a score so low, why didn't the Health Department just shut the restaurant down?

State law won't let them just based on a inspection score. The Health Department inspected Mandarin House after someone filed an anonymous complaint about food illness from there. The restaurant says it's working hard to clean up.

Chuck Cartmell leaves the Mandarin House with leftovers in tow.

"Very good time. Service was good, food was excellent. I have no problems," Cartmell said.

But The Knox County Health Department says other customers did.

"It's a little shocking, I'll be honest with you," Cartmell said.

After an anonymous complaint of food illness, health inspectors checked out the West Knoxville eatery last week. What inspectors found is in the this report. It lists enough violations to give the restaurants a score of 37 out of 100."

"Very seldom do we see a score this low," Ronnie Nease from the Knox County Health Department said.

Among the 29 violations, the report says inspectors found: "Excessively dirty" kitchen floors, an employee trying to cook chicken after it fell on the floor, fried food was dripped with chicken blood in the freezer, also inspectors found more than 10 cockroaches behind loose dishroom siding.

"We were pretty well shocked and devastated that we could do that. We felt we let people down," Mandarin House employee Jon Schofield said.

Jon Schofield's a server. Management asked him to talk to us because he speaks better English.

"We just had a particularly terrible rush. We hadn't had any time to clean up. We were in the process of starting that," Schofield said.

Eight of the 29 violations were critical items. Those require a follow-up inspection within 15 days.

"The state law of Tennessee, which we enforce, doesn't allow us to shut them down because of a score," Nease said.

That takes either a sewage backup in the floors or a lack of water. Those didn't happen.

"They are improving since we've been there," Nease said.

"We're still dedicated to bringing you the freshest ingredients and the best food," Schofield said.

Cartmell recommends the restaurant...

"Because for me, this was a very pleasurable experience," Cartmell said.

Mandarin House says it's trying to keep it that way.

The Health Department gave employees food safety training Tuesday. Language has been a bit of problem. Many of the employees are Latino and the chefs are Chinese, but the Health Department's using interpreters and says the classes went well.

A new manager took over about eight months ago. Since then, the health department says mandarin house scores required extra inspections, once before.

Health inspectors will be back at the end of the week.


You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Join the Conversation!

While WVLT allows comments on articles, we ask that you respect the online community. Comments may be removed at any time for violations including:

  • Obscenity, profanity, vulgarity, racism, violent descriptions, name-calling or personal attacks.
  • Abuse of multiple accounts.
  • Off-topic comments.

Comments may be checked for inappropriate content or rule violation, but the station is under no legal obligation to monitor or remove comments. If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator. 
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

  • by cherie Location: loudon tn on Apr 11, 2011 at 01:54 PM
    Only went to the mandarine house once and that was enough. It was dark and gloomy, the food was unpresentable. Nothing there looked or tasted good. Sorry but I have been in wonderful chinese restaurant where everything was very tasty and would always enjoy returning. The Tn law must be changed so these places can be closed down and cleaned up before someone really gets sick and heaven forbid, dies.
  • by Marty Location: Florida on May 11, 2009 at 02:33 PM
    That is soooo very sad. I hope nobody got sick and died.
  • by Concerned Location: knoxville on Jan 9, 2009 at 01:18 PM
    Recently I caught the owners of two resturants side by side, smoking pot in the kitchen of one of them. I even saw where they put it for the next time. Should I call the police? I'm afraid nothing will be done and they might find out who told on them.
  • by Philip Location: Atlanta on May 20, 2008 at 10:27 PM
    I am from Atlanta. Dont believe anything you read about cats and dogs in chinese restaurant. It never happen! Dont be silly!
  • by Krista Location: Knoxville on May 15, 2008 at 05:33 PM
    As of May..their new score is 100
  • by Chris Location: Lenoir City on May 1, 2008 at 12:27 PM
    I really would like to know what the new score is!!!!
  • by Katie D. Location: Knoxville on Apr 7, 2008 at 03:42 PM
    I like how they haven't posted there new scores yet!
  • by No Thanks Location: Pigeon Forge on Apr 3, 2008 at 09:31 PM
    It should be shut down-the one here in Pigeon Forge got shut down for it's filth. Supposedly the inspectors found a cat and a dog carcass, and when questioned about it the workers said it was for "personal use". They were also busted for luring the wild ducks from the nearby stream and using them in their food. I will never eat at any Asian Buffet ever again! Japanese Steakhouses are the way to go! At least they cook your food right in front of your face, no surprises there! And it's delicious!
  • by Tom Location: Crossville on Mar 28, 2008 at 03:20 PM
    If they decide to shut this place down... I hope they will give some advance notice so we can go there eat and take some home with us. We love Chinese and this is our favorite place along with P. F. Chang.
  • by Tammy Location: Knoxville on Mar 25, 2008 at 08:13 PM
    The state of Tennessee should change their laws. Any place with issues like this should be shut-down and all their locations should be subject to inspections more offten. Could the state be sued for not protecting the public? A 37 score. I will never eat there.


6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Copyright © 2015 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 16793471 -
Gray Television, Inc.