The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 16, 2004


Ferns opens under a temporary permit

Ferns Country Store opens. Peter Brown, at the cash register, serves Casey Smith last Saturday. (Photo by Ellen Huber)

After a two-and-a-half-week dry spell, the coffee is flowing again in the center of town. Ferns Country Store opened last Saturday after being granted a temporary 14-day permit by the Carlisle Board of Health. The process of obtaining the necessary licenses and permits, which delayed the opening, was a first-time learning experience for store owners Robin Emerson and Larry Bearfield as well as for Carlisle's town boards.

The new owners had signed the long-term lease on the property on December 26 and, believing that they could assume Daisy's licenses and permits as a continuation of an existing business, had expected to re-open on January 2, after a few "cosmetic changes." However, after several visits to the store, Concord Health Inspectors Gabi White and Mike Moore said the changes that had been made to the food preparation areas were more than cosmetic and the store would require a new permit as a new enterprise. The Carlisle Board of Health contracts with the Concord Health Office to perform inspections when needed.

The Board of Health held a special meeting on Wednesday, January 7, to review the findings of the preliminary health surveys of Ferns. In attendance were BOH Chair Martha Bedrosian, members Lisa Davis Lewis and Michael Holland, BOH Administrator Linda Fantasia, and health inspector and chief of the Concord Health Office Mike Moore.

Moore pointed out that because the new owners had moved some of the food preparation areas, Ferns was no longer the same facility as Daisy's. A sanitary survey of the building is only the beginning, he said. "We look at patterns of how food is prepared, moved, and shifted." He recommended that the Board grant a temporary license to allow him to observe Ferns' employees during food preparation.

Moore then distributed his Sanitary Survey, a lengthy list of findings that do not meet the state code. After some discussion, he pointed out that only three items on the list need to be corrected before the store opens to the public:

1. A refrigerator whose temperature has fluctuated must be monitored and calibrated.

2. A sack of flour on a shelf in the basement must be moved to a more sanitary location.

3. A hand-washing sink must be conveniently available to the person operating the cash register if food, such as pizza, is distributed at this location. It is up to the Carlisle BOH to determine whether the remaining items on his list need to be addressed or granted a variance, Moore said.

From the audience, Selectman Tony Allison encouraged the BOH to be flexible. "The Selectmen feel strongly that Daisy's/Ferns provides a tremendous service to the people in town. The sense of the Board of Selectmen is that if it is at all possible to get Ferns operating while we clear up the issues, we would support that. There is the economic issue of ten people unemployed.The Selectmen had granted the business a Common Victuallers license the day before. Town resident Ralph Anderson was unhappy with the suggestion of a temporary permit. "Why can't you grant a permanent permit and pull it if there is non-compliance? he asked."

Davis Lewis summarized the Board's position saying that a temporary permit is appropriate. Until the food preparation operations and locations are observed and finalized, the board cannot determine what variances from the state code will be required, she said. The three-member board then voted unanimously to grant a fourteen-day temporary permit, on condition that the three concerns are removed before opening.

On Monday, Bearfield said he hoped that Moore will return for a final inspection this week and that the BOH will grant a permanent permit at their meeting on Thursday, January 15 (after press time). He also said that the yogurt muffins are excellent and disappearing fast.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito