By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment wants to help diners decide where to eat during Denver Restaurant Week by highlighting its Partners in Food Safety. The program recognizes food facilities that consistently promote and maintain excellent standards.

(credit: CBS)

“We have the greatest staff of any restaurant in Denver,” said Dan Fugman, the owner of Max Gill & Grill. “It’s the experience that makes the difference.”

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The restaurant in the Wash Park neighborhood has been a part of the community for 30 years. It has been named a Partner in Food Safety multiple times by the health department. The award comes from Public Health Investigations, a division of DDPHE. Staff say of the 5,000 retail food establishments regulated by the agency, only 15% typically qualify for the award.

This includes restaurants, food trucks, bakeries, convenience stores, vendors and cafeterias in schools and airports.

(credit: CBS)

“It really takes a team effort and it takes a commitment to training the staff and having procedures in place that really qualify under those guidelines of food safety,” said Michael Roy, Environmental Public Health Investigator II for the City and County of Denver.

The minimum criteria includes no more than two critical violations per inspection and no fines in the last 12 months. The business must also have a formal training program for all their food handling employees. Roy says it cannot come down to one employee, it takes the entire team to ensure the standards needed are met each week.

“In order to win this award, we are really looking for consistency and we we’re looking to show that they have these principals of food and culture in the restaurant on a daily basis,” Roy said.

(credit: CBS)

The culture at Max Gill & Grill has helped their staff live up to this award for three years. It will be participating in Denver Restaurant Week, which starts on Friday. It is only one of a few to receive the award and take part in the Visit Denver sponsored event. Fugman says both are important opportunities to help their restaurant stand out and keep customers coming back.

“You have a big responsibility to your guests, to make sure that their food and drinks are being prepared properly,” he said. “When your staff buys into that culture, and they make it a part of their daily routine, it’s something that all of us can be proud of.”

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Denver Restaurant Week participants that are also Partners in Food Safety:

Il Posto (2601 Larimer Street)

Los Chingones (10155 E. 29th Dr.)

Max Gill and Grill (1052 S. Gaylord Street)

True Food Kitchen (2800 E. 2nd Ave.)

Bubba Gump Shrimp (1437 California Street)

Liberati (2403 Champa Street)

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LINK: Partners In Food Safety Award Winners

Shawn Chitnis