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By Connie Leinbach
To the dismay of many locals and visitors, the Hyde County Health Department on Tuesday revoked the license of popular eatery Eduardo’s Taco Stand on Ocracoke for N.C. Food Code violations.
On Thursday, Eduardo Chavez, whose authentic Mexican cuisine has a loyal following, was at his closed truck contemplating what to do as a few visitors came by offering sympathy for this situation in the height of the visitor season.
Though unsure about his plans, Chavez, whose establishment has been rated No. 1 on Trip Advisor, had no definite answer. He pointed out the improvements he made this year, such as a new refrigerator, a new freezer and two new prep tables.
Under the blazing summer sun on the edge of the Variety Store parking lot, the truck includes a grill, oven and fryers, in addition to a refrigerator and the prep tables. He pointed out an air conditioner, but in the hot weather and with the back door open inside the truck is warm.
As he noted on a Facebook post on Tuesday, “To be honest with you our truck is to small” for the many tacos and burritos made. “The issues we have to solve are keeping the temperatures cold,” and that he has to “implement something new, something that takes time…”
Luana Gibbs, Hyde County health director, said Friday that because of several violations noted on Tuesday afternoon, the truck’s inspection rating dipped below 70, which, according to the health code, prompts immediate license revocation.
“The refrigerators are all out of temperature which led to a ‘cold holding’ violation,” Gibbs said.
“Cold holding” is one of the top critical inspection items for restaurants, she said, noting that refrigerators cannot register above 45 degrees or food-born illnesses can grow.
“I hate it for the guy, but this is about safety,” Gibbs said. “It was what we had to do. The rules are not to punish people but to keep the public safe. None of us wants to deal with a food-born outbreak.”
To reopen, Chavez will have to do the application process all over again, Gibbs said.
Commenters on Facebook rued the turn of events and strongly supported Eduardo’s.
“Life does not end today,” Chavez concluded his Facebook statement. “We have to solve things!!! That has a solution and of course I will be Back More Strong trust me I did my best and I will always.”