Health violations shut down Kanemitsu Bakery for second time this year

Kanemitsu Bakery at 79 Ala Malama St., an institution on Molokai, has been shut down for health code violations. A date for reopening is uncertain.

Kanemitsu Bakery has been shut down for the second time this year for health code violations, leaving Molokai’s oldest business with an uncertain future.

The order to suspend its operations came on Monday from the State Department of Health. Kanemitsu Bakery, at 79 Ala Malama St. in Kaunakakai, has been a part of life on Molokai since 1926.

While this sign indicates that the restaurant will remain open while renovations at the bakery take place, both the restaurant and bakery were not doing business when visited on Wednesday.

According to Kanemitsu Manager Blossom Poepoe, an ant caused the home of Molokai hot bread to get shut down.

“They (the DOH) got a complaint from someone who got some bread,” said Poepoe. “I went to look at it (on Monday) and there was a little ant inside the bread. So that’s why they shut it down.”

But the DOH said the problems went further. Apparently, health officials, following up on a June 15 complaint, inspected the bakery on June 20 and found “serious deficiencies.” They said the inspector found, “visual sighting of rodents during the inspection, no water available at the rinse compartment of the sink, unclean food preparation surfaces, no soap and hand towels at hand-washing sinks and general unsanitary conditions.”

Customers of Kanemitsu will have to wait for this sign to come down before they can patronize Molokai’s oldest business again.

Officials at the DOH met with owner George Kanemitsu on Oahu on Monday to issue the suspension of all bakery operations.

Mr. Kanemitsu, along with the store’s attorney, will be meeting today with DOH officials for a hearing, said Poepoe. Hopefully, said Poepoe, today’s hearing will offer a plan for reopening and also reduce the $90,000 fine levied against the bakery in May.

An inspection on March 7 and 8 uncovered, “serious deficiencies in the maintenance and manufacturing practices at the facility,” including improper cleaning and sanitizing of cooking implements and surfaces, inadequate rodent control, lack of hot water and general unsanitary conditions, the Health Department said.

Poepoe said the $90,000 fine is now being appealed in court. “How many businesses on Molokai can pay $90,000? Maybe in Honolulu, but not Molokai.”

She went on to say that the current suspension will continue until an overhaul of the operation is complete. “They said they are closing us down until we redo the whole thing — floors, walls, windows, tables, everything,” said Poepoe.

So what are the exact repairs being required? “I don’t know,” said Poepoe. “I’m really confused. You talk to one person and it’s one thing then you talk to the inspector over here and she finds every little thing that violates us, so I really don’t know.”

Poepoe appeared optimistic that the repairs can be made and that Mr. Kanemitsu intends to keep the business going. “It’s doable but it’s a lot of work, it’s a big project.”

In particular, Poepoe sees the work to replace all the floors to be a real challenge. “The bakery is huge, bigger than the whole area,” said Poepoe, pointing to the front of the store.

Besides the floors, the windows will need replacing and must include mesh screens. The walls must all be painted and the tables replaced, as well, said Poepoe.

A complete mitigation plan for the bakery is expected to come out of today’s hearing. Once the work begins, the bakery will have a better idea of when it will be able to reopen.


5 Responses

  1. DOH could go into every store on Molokai and find the same thing. They need to get a grip. Give the place time to do the repairs. What does painting, new floors and new tables have to do with rodents? I am all for rodent control and proper water facilities. What about keeping doors open all the time and lots of flies? Open air restaurants with no screens? Very confusing on why they seem to have targeted the Bakery when a lot of places are in the same bucket.

  2. Most stores on Molokai don’t have prepared foods like pastries (great culture media) sitting in fly infested display cases at warm room temperatures. It is hard to maintain proper sanitary standards with bad flooring, paint and work surfaces. It is a lot easier to control rodents and maintain general cleanliness if the walls and flooring are in good condition. He’s put little or nothing into keeping the place up and the attitude at the top gets reflected by the staff performance.

    Time? He’s had years. Seem to recall a DOH problem back in 2009 that got swept under the rug.

    True, you have to have a pretty good level of resistance to survive here but Kanemitsu’s was a special case…really disgusting for years. The amazing thing is that they didn’t close the restaurant at the same time…proof positive that the old guy still has some political clout. There are very few places on Molokai that are fit to eat in but that ranks right at the bottom. Let’s hope this marks a new level of vigilance by DOH on Molokai.

  3. Its High Time that SOMEBODY did SOMETHING about the PUTRID stench, and disgusting facilities at this business. Years have passed and Kanemitsu’s Bakery has made millions on the backs of Molokai residents and TOURIST, and kamaaina. What have they done. Spit in the face of Molokai. Personally, these two peoples, Blossom Poepoe and George Kanemitsu have not accepted responsibility at all. the continue to deny the fact that they have a RAT INFESTED BUILDING and CONTINUE TO SERVE VERMIN (doo doo) to Molokai is solid, liquid and odor forms.

    Kanemitsu has historically let their Grease Trap overflow into the streets for years.

    People walk over the grease trap waste while standing in line for Hot Bread, the iconic sale for Kanemitsu Bakery.

    Anyone who has stood in the line will attest to this fact. It is common knowledge.

    ENOUGH ALREADY. I dont believe that they will comply. They will find more excuses. I have been on Molokai since 1997 and have not seen this business renovated, improved, upgrade, nor cleaned on a regular basis.

    Flies infest the pastry display and clerks laugh.

    Fact is also that Kanemitsu’s even defied the NO SMOKING IN RESTAURANT ban issues for Months! Sheer arrogance!

    If the State looks closer, there are MORE PROBLEMS with regards to other DOH issues in the labor department.

    IF THE COUNTY BUILDING DEPARTMENT INSPECTS THE PREMISE, they will find MANY major violations of Building Codes.

    TO THE STATE of HAWAII: Do you deserve this treatment?

    I think NOT! To Molokais residents, speak out. If you dont, you will be the looser…………….as you have been already!

    Bachi, Kanemitsu has NO political clout. He is a poor businessman that has been lead down the road by a arrogant manager.

    No aloha for that behavior, let the fines stand.

  4. […] Kanemitsu Bakery, an institution on Molokai, has once again failed an inspection based on health code violations. Owner George Kanemitsu has expressed his uncertainty about the bakery’s future. Kanemitsu Bakery will remain closed after a Wednesday inspection by the State Department of Health found it had not fixed the health code violations found in June. […]

  5. […] 75-year-old business has been closed since June 25 after failing an inspection from the State Department of Health. According to the Molokai Dispatch […]

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