When I interviewed Ramiro Torres about opening his Los Torres, his small taqueria in Oak Cliff and the subject of this week's restaurant review, I heard something that I hear a lot from new restaurant owners. Torres described a seemingly endless process of inspections followed by repairs to please one inspector, only to have a second inspector come out to look at the first repairs, and tack additional items to the list.
Khahn Nguyen, who opened Dalat, told me a similar story about the removal of a pizza oven from his pho restaurant. He was initially toying with keeping to oven to offer flat breads to his customers, but inspectors said it was never approved under the old Redfork regime and would have to go. Sounds easy, right?
It took multiple inspections to make that one go away. One for the vent and oven, and one for the slab the oven sat on, and on and on. I bring this up because an inefficient inspection process has the potential to hamper or even prevent the opening of new restaurants. Owners sometimes pay rent on their spaces with no income coming in, often for months. And if a first inspector misses something that a second one finds, the owners are completely out of luck -- even if it happens several times in a row.
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Thankfully, after six months of inspection jousting, Los Torres opened up and unleashed some amazing goat on Oak Cliff. I wonder how many small taquerias ran out of money before they were approved by the city to open?