Pub and cafe forced to clean up act

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By Emma Prestwich

For the second time in less than two years, Toronto Public Health has handed the Ram in the Rye and Oakham House Cafe a conditional pass.

According to Toronto Public Health, a Nov. 9 inspection revealed one “crucial” infraction after an employee in the venue’s joint kitchen failed to wash their hands. A crucial infraction is the most severe.

A conditional pass doesn’t constitute closure, and the kitchen was allowed to keep operating. The city issues the pass as a warning to food establishments and gives them a chance to correct the infractions within several days. Health inspectors returned 13 hours later to grant an “unqualified pass,” or a successful inspection.

“They know us to be incredibly proactive”, said Eric Newstadt, general manager of the Ram in the Rye and the Oakham House Cafe.

“We have a long history of unqualified passes.” He said only one employee was involved and the establishment was working with the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU) to fix the problem.

OPSEU represents workers in the pub’s kitchen. The city also found health safety issues at the Ram in December 2008, when an inspection revealed six infractions.

The problems ranged from a failure to provide adequate cleaning supplies to poor storage of liquid waste. An unqualified pass was granted four days later, when the infractions were corrected.

Staff at the Ram refused to comment. One employee said she was told not to speak with media about health and safety inspections.

Newstadt said he sent out a memo about a year ago asking employees to direct media to the management, who he sees as more informed about health and safety issues.

“I don’t think it’s fair for employees to have to answer for management practices,” he said.

The Ram is not the only food venue on campus that has received a conditional pass from city inspectors. In July, an inspection of the Hub Market Cafeteria found four infractions, including “crucial” failure to prevent food contamination and “significant” problems with pest control prevention.

The Hub was granted an unqualified pass the following day, after steps were taken by the university to correct the health and safety hazards. But the Ram in the Rye is not regulated by the university in the same way because, as a part of the Student Campus Centre, it is run by the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).

This means the university is not responsible for enforcing food safety standards on student-run venues.

“We don’t oversee them in that sense,” said Levy. “They don’t report to us.”

Local dining spots with infractions


An inspection on Oct. 28 found the restaurant failed to ensure employee hygiene and sanitization of food contact surfaces. The infractions were corrected and the venue passed on Nov. 1.


An inspection on Nov. 1 found the cafe failed to protect food from contamination, to sanitize food contact surfaces and to ensure pest control. It passed another test on Nov. 5.


An inspection on Nov. 4 determined the pub failed to prevent food contamination and sanitization of surfaces. The city issued the venue a pass Nov. 5.


The restaurant failed to prevent pest control, sanitize surfaces and prevent food contamination on Nov 2. The issues were corrected and the city passed the venue on Nov. 4.

Photo: Chelsea Pottage


  1. My friend and I ate at the RAM IN THE RYE last night – a burger, and a chicken wrap – and we are sick as dogs today. Couldn’t make class or work. Obviously, the issues in the kitchen are not corrected. Eric Newstadt, what’s going on?

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