By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - The deep fryers have gone cold. The doors have been closed by regional health authorities. And Serge Geneau, the 64-year-old owner of Grampa Bill's, is speaking out.
Geneau operated the chip stand at its Eleventh Street East location in Cornwall for 15 years.
He was in the french fry business for over half a century until the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) shut down Grampa Bill's on Aug. 20 for the second time, following multiple complaints, violations and fines, over the last two years.
"It's definitely somebody who has a vendetta against me," said Geneau. "They didn't even look, they didn't even check, they just gave me the letter and said you're closed. And that's what got me going."
In a recent interview with Seaway News, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, EOHU chief executive officer, said the premise presented a health hazard due to the inability to maintain proper sanitary conditions.
"It's not right the way the health unit went about it. They wanted the walls, floors, and ceiling, clean, as well as the screens and the outside steps, which I did," he said. "Let's face it, we work in grease. I don't care which place it is, you can't keep it spotless. I even had a part-time worker clean the cupboards every night. In the last two weeks, we really kept the place in tip-top shape."
He's adamant that all the requests made by health unit were followed.
"I knew they were coming to inspect me last Wednesday. I was ready for them. To be honest, I was proud of myself because I had done more than what they asked," said Geneau.
He went into further detail alluding that it was a neighbour who kept calling city councillors and the health unit to have him shut down.
"I had trouble with them two years ago when they were there, then they moved away and I had no complaints at all," said Geneau. "They move back and 'bang' I get all the complaints again."
He has the option to re-open if he cleans up his act, to the health unit’s satisfaction. But not a moment sooner.
"I was thinking of re-opening, but after all of this, I'm not. It's sad that it finished this way. At this point it's not worth it for me anymore," said Geneau. "I fed customers when they had no money, but people seem to forget that. I sweat my guts out for 55 years, it's enough."
The chip stand is currently for sale on Kijiji.