El Ranch should have closed a long time ago

Tyler Moseberry, Courier Staff

Now that El Rancherito is closed, people will no longer have to weigh the pros of eating good food with the cons of potentially getting food poisoning.

I used to go to El Rancherito every week. I loved their food, as much as I love the food at the Galesburg location too. Then I heard about the temporary shut down last fall. I went to the health board meeting to write about it for the paper and I wish I wouldn’t have.

Among all of the violations, the one that turned me off the most was the fact that they would routinely serve meat that wasn’t cooked or prepared properly. I can forget about a lot of things, but not something as serious as serving food that could have bacteria. From that moment on, I never went to that restaurant again, which pains me because it’s only about 85 steps from my apartment complex.

The most surprising reveal of that meeting was when the health board decided to keep El Rancherito open and give them another chance. Based on some of the comments that the board members made, I thought that it was heading in the direction of a permanent closure. They all seemed reluctant to keep it open, but they did anyway. If I had a vote, it would have been no.

I truly think that they only gave them one last chance because they didn’t want to see Macomb lose yet another business. If we saw this behavior in a restaurant in a different town, I think that there’s a strong likelihood that the health board would have immediately shut them down.

After I removed El Rancherito from my restaurant rotation, I became loyal to Wendy’s. For someone who has gone to Wendy’s so much that I’ve probably paid their electrical bill for the entire year, it’s amazing how I haven’t had one bad experience there. The worst thing that ever happened to me at Wendy’s is when they accidentally gave me Dr. Pepper instead of Coca-Cola. They never put me in the hospital, which is sadly where I set the bar for quality.

I know a lot of people who were still going to El Rancherito regularly up until the day that it closed. They are still standing, but that’s not evidence that it was a well-run restaurant; that’s evidence that those people are very fortunate to never have gotten food poisoning.

Nobody wants to see more people lose their jobs or to see another vacant building in a town that seems to be struggling; however, we shouldn’t allow a business to continue operating if it means putting the public’s health at risk.

If I had the opportunity to own a restaurant and the health department gave me numerous chances to remain open, I wouldn’t take that opportunity for granted. At a certain point, I only feel sorry for people who were dealt a bad deck, not for those who controlled their own fate by failing to follow health codes.