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It was about 7:30 on a Sunday evening. Business at the Pacific Diner was slow. The door opened, and a man in a suit walked up to the counter.
“Welcome to the Pacific Diner. Can I get you anything?”
The man observed the menu hanging over the bar. One item, the Pacific Special, caught his attention. It was a hamburger seasoned with spices from East Asia. He had heard well about it from several friends.
“I’ll get the Pacific Special.”
“Good choice. I think this is the last batch we have.”
The meal arrived in about fifteen minutes. While eating it, the man asked, “Can I have a look at your full menu?”
The bartender handed the man a menu. He skimmed through the menu, carefully checking each item.
“How’s business been lately?”
“Pretty slow. We’re not worried, though. The food is great and it keeps our customers coming back.”
“Do they ever recommend the place to their friends?”
“Yeah, usually. Our reputation isn’t the best, which keeps out a lot of potential customers.”
“And I think I know why that may be. I’m health inspector Robert Mangiatino. We’ve received several complaints of health code violations here. We also suspect that the recent outbreak of salmonellosis came from your food.”
“You’re not the first to tell us that. I can assure you that we keep up with the FDA’s standards.”
“We have evidence against that. May I speak with the manager?”
“You’re speaking to him.”
“Take me to your kitchen.”
“I will not. Those accusations are false. You can’t do that without a warrant, either.”
“Well, I actually have one.” The health inspector took out his search warrant and waved it in front of the manager.
“Alright, follow me.”
The inspector was led into the kitchen. It was a room lit with Tiki torches and decorated with plastic palm trees.
“OK, I’m going to need to see how you make each item on the menu. Let’s start with the California Burger.”
The manager turned on the grill. Thunder could be heard booming outside.
“Wow. Bad storm,” said the inspector.
“Indeed,” the manager replied.
The health inspector watched closely as the manager made the burger. The procedure seemed quite normal. He checked the meat. It looked fresh. The manager added guacamole to the burger.
“Did you make that guacamole?”
“Where are your ingredients?”
The manager pointed to a box filled with avocados. The inspector checked them. They looked fresh. The manager handed the inspector the California Burger.
“It looks fine. This item passes.”
“I told you there are no violations. Now may we be finished?”
“No. I need to check every item.”
Time ticked by. The manager continued to make the food and the health inspector continued to check off each item. The diner seemed more and more normal. In fact, the food was actually pretty tasty. While checking the pineapples used in the Hawaiian Pizza, the health inspector asked, “How did you get into the restaurant business?”
“I was born in the South Pacific. I moved to Hawaii when I was 7. Shortly after I turned 25, I moved to California. I’ve had a strong connection with the Pacific as I’ve lived there most of my life. I love cooking, as it’s a way that I can share my culture and passion for food with others. That’s why I started this restaurant.”
“This is a very nice diner. I came in here with low expectations and those accusations are seeming more and more false. I’m going to pass your restaurant. Congratulations.” The health inspector signed a paper and handed it to the manager. “But I still need to check the rest of the items. I’m required by law to do so.”
The manager continued making each item. Only one was remaining.
“Alright, we’re almost done. The last thing I need you to make is the Pacific Special.”
“Excellent. I’ll need to grab some ingredients downstairs. Hang on a second.”
The health inspector observed the kitchen in the meantime. There were a few pictures hanging on the walls. There was a photograph of what seemed to be the manager as a child. He was dressed in traditional South Pacific clothing. A loud clash of thunder startled the inspector.
“I’ve got the ingredients,” said the manager as he came upstairs.
“Great. What’s the first ingredient.”
“First we need to to prepare the beef.”
“That’s what I assumed. Where did you leave it?”
It was 12:30 on a Monday afternoon. Business at the Pacific Diner was going well. The door opened, and a man in a suit walked up to the counter.
“Welcome to the Pacific Diner. Can I get you anything?”
The man was reading his newspaper. The front page headline was titled: “Local Health Inspector Robert Mangiatino Goes Missing”.
“I’m not sure what to get right now. But can I ask a few questions?”
“Are you the manager?”
“I’m not sure if you know me, but I’m a detective at the police station. I’m on lunch break, but I’ve been investigating the case on the missing health inspector from the paper. From my knowledge, he had been here last night. Can you fill me in?”
“Yes, I heard about that story. He had just passed my restaurant and left in a hurry.” The manager showed the detective the report signed by Inspector Mangiatino.
“That’s strange. At least he was able to clear up those accusations of salmonellosis coming from your diner.” The detective skimmed through the menu. “Can I get the Pacific Special?”
“Good choice. We just picked up new ingredients last night."