GEORGE TOWN: The owner of a popular biryani restaurant here is upset stories claiming his shop had been shuttered by health authorities for being dirty have gone viral, when in reality, it is far from the truth.
Kapitan Restaurant owner and founder Abdul Wahab Mohamed Hanifah said only the butchery and catering section bearing the same name, located a few doors away, were ordered closed for two weeks.
He told FMT the temperature at the meat storage room was not at the optimum level and cleanliness was also not up to the mark, which caused the health inspectors to order the section shut for a clean-up.
Wahab said the restaurant, on the other hand, had only recently been given an award by the city council for being one of the cleanest in the city.
“We have an ‘A’ rating given by the council for cleanliness, all our 50-odd workers have been given typhoid shots, and our food handlers wear hairnets,” he said.
“I am really upset that people forwarding pictures of the health checks assume it is us, when those pictures are of other shops ordered to close.
“They included a picture of a rat in a drain. What are you trying to imply and what has it got to do with us?
“I worked for 21 years to build my business from a small shop to what it is today. A lot of it has gone to waste because of irresponsible parties who forwarded pictures not related to us,” he said.
Wahab said regular health inspections on eateries were important to ensure cleanliness. He admitted that previous inspections had revealed some shortcomings but they were immediately rectified.
He said his restaurant was once penalised last year for having a leaky air-conditioner and was ordered to close for two weeks. However, it reopened in two days after the problem was fixed.
To ensure the restaurant is always clean, Wahab said he will close his 24-hour restaurant from 1am to 5am every Tuesday for a “thorough wash”.
As for his butchery and catering shop which were ordered to close yesterday, he said workers were fixing the temperature and ensuring cleanliness so that the health inspectors can return for another check on Monday.
“I am happy when the health inspectors come to our shop. It will keep us on our toes. But please teach us, don’t close us. We make mistakes but are eager to change,” he said.
Meanwhile, it was business as usual at the Kapitan today. A customer, who wanted to be known only as Eric, said he was not aware of reports the restaurant had been ordered to close and was happy with its cleanliness.
Another patron, Muhammad Nizam Ali Nasir, 23, said he was at the restaurant for his daily “fix” of almond milk.
Wahab, 55, operates nine branches of the Kapitan in Penang. He first started Kapitan Restaurant at 49 Chulia Street in 1998 before moving to the corner of Pitt Lane and Chulia Street, where it is presently located.
Two other restaurants in Little India also closed
Yesterday, the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and the Penang Health Department also closed two restaurants in the Little India area for two weeks. One serves nasi kandar while the other is an Indian restaurant on Market Street.
The department issued the closure order for unsanitary premises under Section 11 of the Food Act 1983.
The order gives the eatery 14 days to clean up but it may be allowed to reopen if authorities are happy with the cleanliness and changes made when they call again three days after the notice is issued.
Failure to comply may result in the owner being charged in court, where he is liable to a jail term of five years or a fine, or both, upon conviction.