Health dept. closes Pauly Dogs, Cosmic for one day

Pauly Dogs is bringing its old pushcart back today-but not by choice.

Phil Woodell, an inspector from the Durham County Health Department, told operators of the popular hot dog stand and of Cosmic Outpost, both located on the West Campus Plaza, to shut down two hours early yesterday at around 4 p.m. due to health code violations.

"According to Phil Woodell, the way they're operating is not a cart operation," Director of Dining Services Jim Wulforst said. "A cart operation is mobile, and even though [Pauly Dogs] is a cart on wheels, it's fixed in place."

Wulforst added that because Pauly Dogs prepares fresh meals to-order, it must serve from a mobile cart so that at the end of the day it can be moved to a place where it can be cleaned.

Although the cart's front section does rest on wheels, it is connected to a stationary back cart by a partition, and the structure is considered immobile by health-code standards.

Wulforst said the partition will likely be removed today so that the cart can be mobile Friday, but until then Pauly Dogs will use its old pushcart.

Cosmic Outpost, which carries ready-made items from Cosmic Cantina, violated the health code by serving unpackaged condiments, owner Jamie Sneeringer said. The stand, however, plans to remedy the problem by serving packaged condiments from the restaurant so that it will not need to switch to a mobile cart, Wulforst said.

Randy Evans, who was working at the Pauly Dogs stand when Woodell visited, said news of the violation came as a surprise. He added that he was frustrated because the stand had been inspected last fall and was not deemed to be in violation of the health code.

"When he told me to shut it down, I kept making hot dogs because I was blowing him off, and he told me that if I didn't stop there would be a lawsuit," he said.

The Cosmic Outpost stand has been running for more than a year, and Pauly Dogs replaced its former pushcart with a new stand last fall. Wulforst said the Health Department approved plans for the permanent stands when they were first submitted.

"I'm having a hard time really understanding the legitimacy of this law," he added.

Junior Shaunte Collins visited Pauly Dogs as it was shutting down yesterday and said she was disappointed she could not order from the stand.

"I haven't had a Pauly dog all semester. I'm about to cry," she said.

Wulforst said although both Pauly Dogs and Cosmic Outpost should be up and running today, the early closing yesterday could have been avoided.

"We'll get it corrected, but it is unfortunate that the Health Department elected not to just give them a warning," he said.

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