We finally passed inspection! Not that we ever failed, but it was such a hard road to get to a point where we could have an inspection!
First, we found out that you can't get a higher score than your commissary kitchen. So that put our best score at a 91. We asked if we had gotten a score independent of our kitchen, just our truck, what it would have been and we were told 99. We have an A either way, but a 99 sure would have looked better on the sheet we have to post in our window!
I would also advise setting up a date for your inspection even if you don't think you will be able to keep it. We set up a date that we thought we would be good for, and then they started reviewing everything that we submitted months before. They sent us a list of stuff that we didn't realize would/could be a problem! So it is a good way to prompt them to send you a check sheet. There are a ton of little things that you have to plan for once you finally get your truck, like where the fire extinguishers will go and where you will store things like cleaning supplies so that they won't be in danger for contaminating food surfaces. You have to find a place for all the required signage. Plus we experience other issues. For example, we thought our fabricator was following the code for our water system and come to find out the gray water tank was not large enough to meet code--delay. The vehicle wrap, including the required permit number on the door, took longer than expected--delay. The temperature in the freezer on the truck wasn't cool enough, so I called a repair man and he had to order parts--delay. Found out I couldn't convert my fryer from natural gas to propane without dropping enough money to pay for a new one--so I bought a new one, and you guessed it--delay!
The scariest delay was finding out I had a gas leak in my truck the hard way! I had just had the regulator on the propane tank installed. I asked some veteran food-truckers to help me make sure that "I don't blow myself up" as I lit the pilots and started my equipment up for the first time. They graciously came aboard my new truck to check things out and help. We fired up the fryer first. It was on the melt setting and there were a foot to foot-and-a-half flames shooting out the top! (That's how I knew it hadn't been converted to propane.) So we shut that down and moved on to lighting the pilots on the range. Two flicks of a Bic lighter and all four of us lit up in a flash of fire! One trucker and I ran out the back door while the other two stood stunned a moment before they came out. I quickly turned off the gas, but I noticed a flicker of flame reflecting in the door. The flame was coming from the pipe coming up from the floor to the range. The flame was burning all the way around where the pipe met the tube that took the gas to the range. Since I did not know how long it would take for the gas to burn out of the tube, or what kind of damage may be caused if I let it go out on its own, I had to go in there with my fire extinguisher and put it out.
The two truckers closest to the leak lost some hair on their arms and legs. My eyes burned for some time, like I had cut 100 onions. But no one was seriously injured--thank God! I was amazed that there was no real damage either. The quick burst of flame was hot enough to keep my griddle blazing hot for some time (I was able to clean some of the rust off the griddle!), but not hot enough to burn any skin or clothes! The guys laughed it off and told me that they wished they could tell me that it would never happen again, but we are dealing with gas! I listened to a few stories of them burning their eyebrows off lighting a fryer. It didn't make me feel any better about the near miss we just encountered though.
The fabricator blamed it on a faulty part in the line. I'm sure that is plausible, but given some of the other less than stellar experiences we have had I'm not sure I believe it. They rushed our truck together towards the end and I know that some of the quality suffered for it. I didn't think they would have rushed something as important as the gas line though. They came to us and fixed it, but it was another delay in the process.
The day of our inspection things went well. I had let the kitchen manager know that we had rescheduled for a certain date, so I was a little disappointed that I had to clean the dish pit before the inspector arrived, but everything else went well. Our inspector was very kind and understanding. She checked that all the equipment was clean and installed, that all of our food and chemicals were properly stored. She asked questions about heating and cooling food, hand-washing, and mixing sanitizing solutions (don't forget the test strips!). I was glad that I had all of my cheat sheets ready! She also made several helpful suggestions. She had even said that she was praying for us (due to all the delays)! You can't have a better start than that!
Now that I am officially permitted its time to schedule some jobs and make some money! I am starting in the off season though...and baby, its cold outside!