When the new owners of Bluerose revealed they planned to make a few changes to the West Ashley café, they likely weren’t referring to its health inspection grade. But the restaurant this month was slapped with a "C," the lowest rating a restaurant can receive without being shut down by the state.
Bluerose received the "C" following a June 19 inspection because it hadn’t corrected violations noted six days earlier by a S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control inspector. All of the violations pertained to safe holding temperatures, including too-warm grits, fish and a cheese log.
According to DHEC spokesman Tommy Crosby, Bluerose has requested an extension on its reinspection. A follow-up should be performed later this week. “They are working to correct the outstanding issues,” Crosby says of owners The Montford Group.
An e-mail message sent to Montford Group President Jared Jones and a phone call to the restaurant weren’t returned.
“Just because someone gets a ‘C’ doesn’t mean they failed,” Crosby says, pointing out that restaurants with low scores are still permitted to operate. Still, he allows that C’s “aren’t the norm.”
Only 26 establishments in Charleston County have received a "C" on any 2018 inspection. As of Monday, DHEC inspectors this year had performed 2,363 inspections in Charleston County. (That figure encompasses permitting, routine and follow-up inspections, so the total number of scrutinized facilities is slightly lower).
Statewide, "C" grades are even less common, with 20,053 inspections in 2018 yielding "C" window stickers for just 168 facilities. Briefly among them was the DHEC Building canteen, which was downgraded in April after an inspection that also resulted in a call to pest control. The canteen now has an "A" grade.
Prior to the June 13 inspection that promoted the June 19 revisit, Bluerose had received seven "A" grades in a row, including for its permit inspection in February.
The Montford Group in January announced it had purchased Bluerose from Denis O’Doherty, who ran the restaurant for 14 years. Against the wishes of some regulars, the new owners kept the old name, in addition to modernizing the menu. While Jones in April told The Post and Courier that the surrounding community had been receptive to changes, such as the introduction of mushroom toast, a few fans of the original Bluerose have expressed skepticism on social media.
“Really disappointing,” a diner who self-identified as a longtime regular this week posted on Yelp, criticizing the restaurant’s service, shepherd’s pie and salmon. “We won't be back.”
Other restaurants in Charleston County that currently have a "C" grade include Kickin’ Chicken on James Island and Las Lupitas in North Charleston. Typically, restaurants request reinspections until they receive an "A."