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Brandon food service providers score high with diners
By By Alica P. Thiele
Challenger reporter

August 15. 2014 6:00AM
Bob McNamara enjoys an egg burger at 212 Boiling Point sports bar every Wednesday night. But at Dairy Queen, “You can’t beat that chicken basket,” he said. Of course, the chicken at Pizza Ranch is good too.
McNamara said he loves all the restaurants in Brandon, “but the steakhouse is probably my favorite,” he said.
Brandon has 29 eating places, according to the South Dakota Department of Health, Office of Health Protection, the agency that licenses food service, lodging and campground establishments in the state. It’s also the agency that conducts health inspections on those eating places twice a year – more often, if necessary.
Health inspection scores are listed on the state’s Department of Health website. Three of Brandon’s commercial kitchens received 100 out of 100 possible points in their most recent inspection – Java Express (117 N. Splitrock Blvd.), Brandon Cup Inc. (1009 N. Splitrock Blvd.) and Tonnas Cakes (505 N. Pasque Flower Trail).
Brandon Steakhouse received the lowest score in town for the most recent inspection, at 85, with one critical violation. Last October, the steakhouse scored a 91.
The inspections are done without notice, so inspectors can see the kitchens the way they are on a typical day. Each kitchen starts at 100 points, and points are deducted for violations. Noncritical violations, according to South Dakota’s Department of Health website, are primarily maintenance and sanitation issues that are not likely to result in illness.
Critical violations are operational practices that can lead to illness or injury, the website said.
Bill Leshovsky, who owns Subway in Brandon (most recent score: 97), said the inspectors are strict with the guidelines. For example, certain foods, such as meat, must be kept at temperatures either below 40 degrees or above 140 degrees. A kitchen could get a critical violation for a temperature one degree off, he said.
The thermostat on the water heater must be set within a certain range, too, Leshovsky said, and he suspects more kitchens are cited for having the water too hot rather than not hot enough. Water that is too hot might burn an employee or even customers when they wash their hands, he said.
If a score is too low, or a kitchen has too many critical violations in one visit, then the state does a follow-up visit. That happened to Great Wall, the Chinese buffet at 916 N. Splitrock Blvd. On July 8, the restaurant scored 87 in a follow-up inspection after a Feb. 10 inspection scored 66 with five critical violations.

Great Wall’s kitchen sink was leaking in February, owner Steve Zhang said. And although the restaurant never has had problems with the hot food stations, the buffet’s cold food station was not cold enough at the February inspection. “It’s supposed to be 40 degrees, and ours was 47,” he said.

Zhang said he and employees took care of all the violations. In the case of the cold food station, for example, he replaced some items with foods, such as cookies, that don’t need to be refrigerated. He does keep other items in a refrigerator in the kitchen and will bring them out on request, he said.

“For most common people, it’s not a problem,” Zhang said. “But to (food inspectors), it’s critical.”

A kitchen that earns a high score might even have a critical violation, such as the one Expressway (400 S. Splitrock Blvd.) had on Jan. 3 when it scored a 96.

That causes Nancy Brown to wonder if she should avoid a restaurant with a critical violation, or one that has a lower score.

“I don’t know, because what does ‘80’ mean?” she said.

Brown said she takes note of servers’ procedures when she eats out, for example, or of the preparation area in an open kitchen.

The Department of Health website has a checklist for food service managers and recommends they review it on a weekly basis. The checklist contains reminders of personal dress and hygiene, food storage and dry storage, food handling, equipment, pest control and other areas.

The site also includes handouts for things such as a temperature chart for cooking meat, wearing disposable gloves responsibly, foodborne diseases, control of inspections, and other topics.

Two years’ worth of scores are on the site for each restaurant as well as the number of critical violations a kitchen has had, although the nature of the violation is not listed.
To see the health scores of Brandon and Valley Springs commercial kitchens, visit

To see the South Dakota Department of Health, Office of Health Protection website, visit
Purpose of inspection: Routine, unless otherwise indicated


212 Boiling Point, 328 S. Splitrock Blvd.
95 on March 6
91 on Oct. 29 one critical violation
91 on April 18, 2013

Brandon 1st Stop, 600 N. Splitrock Blvd.
86 on Feb. 10, two critical violations
86 on Oct. 21, 1 critical violation
93 on April 2, 2013, one critical violation

Brandon Cup Inc., 1009 N. Splitrock Blvd.
100 on Oct. 29
92 on April 3, 2013, one critical violation

Brandon Dairy Queen, 230 S. Splitrock Blvd.
88 on March 6, one critical violation
92 on Oct. 21
92 on April 2, 2013

Brandon Municipal Golf Course, 2100 Aspen Blvd.
95 on April 7
81 on July 24, 2013, three critical violations

Brandon Pizza Ranch, 202 S. Splitrock Blvd.
88 on Jan. 15, one critical violation
98 on July 24, 2013 (change of ownership)
92 on April 3, 2013

Brandon Pizza Ranch Stand at Huset’s Speedway, 2012 S. Splitrock Blvd.
91 on June 8, two critical violations
98 on July 28, 2013

Brandon Steakhouse, 1308 E. Rushmore Drive
85 on Feb. 21, one critical violation
91 on Oct. 29

Casey’s General Store, 101 W. Holly Blvd.
96 on March 19
94 on Oct. 29
97 on Sept. 19, 2012

Comfort Inn, 1105 N. Splitrock Blvd.
90 on Jan. 15, one critical violation
92 on July 24, 2013 one critical violation
97 o Feb. 21, 2013 (initial)

Double D Saloon, 325 Main Ave.
97 on March 12 (initial)
86 on Nov. 6, one critical violation
93 on April 29, 2013, one critical violation

Expressway Brandon, 400 S. Splitrock Blvd.
96 on Jan. 3, one critical violation
99 on July 24, 2013

Great Wall, 916 N. Splitrock Blvd.
87 on July 8, one critical violation (follow-up)
66 on Feb. 10, five critical violations
76 on Dec. 17, two critical violations (follow-up)
59 on Oct. 3, six critical violations
89 on June 24, 2013, one critical violation
64 on April 3, 2013, five critical violations

Holiday Inn Express and Suites, 1103 N. Splitrock Blvd.
88 on March 19, two critical violations
93 on Jan. 3 (follow-up)
70 on Oct. 10, four critical violations
87 on April 3, 2013, 2 critical violations

Huset’s Speedway, Rural Route, Brandon
92 on June 8, one critical violation
90 on July 31, 2013, on critical violation
93 on Sept. 9, 2012

Java Express, 117 N. Splitrock Blvd.
100 on Jan. 15
97 on July 24, 2013, one critical violation
96 on April 1, 2013
88 on Dec. 20, 2012, two critical violations (change of ownership)

McDonalds, 922 N. Splitrock Blvd.
97 on Jan. 15
88 on July 24, 2013, one critical violation

Pizza Hut 2794, 101 N. Splitrock Blvd. Suite 4
88 on March 19, two critical violations
100 on Oct. 29

Red Rock Casino, 48181 Highway 42
93 on March 12, one critical violation
90 on Oct. 29, one critical violation

Subway, 1212 Holly Blvd.
97 on Jan. 15
91 on July 24, 2013
94 on Jan. 28, 2013, one critical violation

Sunshine Foods, 117 N. Splitrock Blvd.
91 on Feb. 10, one critical violation
86 on Oct. 3, one critical violation
86 on June 24, 2013, two critical violations
77 on April 2, 2013, two critical violations

Taco Johns of Brandon, 101 N. Splitrock Blvd.
94 on March 19
94 on Oct. 29

Tailgator’s Sports Bar and Grill, 1013 N. Splitrock Blvd.
84 on May 29, two critical violations (change of ownership)

Ten Below Frozen Yogurt, 1224 E. Holly Blvd.
99 on Jan. 15
99 on July 24, 2013
100 on May 2, 2013 (initial)

The Gas Stop 103, 920 N. Splitrock Blvd.
88 on Feb. 3, two critical violations (initial)

The Riviera By Roccos, 26665 481st Ave.
91 on Feb. 21, one critical violation
100 on Sept. 16 (initial)

Three Rivers Post 4726 VFW, 321 S. Main Ave.
93 on April 7, one critical violation
83 on Nev. 6, two critical violations
89 on April 18, one critical violation

Tonnas Cakes, 505 N. Pasque Flower Trail
100 on March 12
98 on Oct. 10

Yogi Bear Campground, 26014 478th Ave.
98 on June 28
92 on Sept. 4, one critical violation


Marc Os-2, 26191 487th Ave.
94 on Aug. 22, 2013, one critical violation
100 on Aug. 16, 2013
97 on Aug. 5, 2013
98 on Aug. 24, 2012
94 on Aug. 17, 2012, one critical violation

MI Nuts, 48445 264th St.
100 on June 27
99 on Aug. 10, 2013
100 on Aug. 4, 2013
99 on Aug. 4, 2012

Pump House, 320 Broadway
89 on Feb. 7, one critical violation
90 on Oct. 21
93 on Jan. 28, 2013

Janie Olson asks a customer what toppings she wants on her sandwich at Subway. Subway's most recent health score was a 97. Photo by Alica P. Thiele

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