The Porthole Reopens; Faithful Patrons Return Despite Health Violations

The Porthole Sign That May Date Back to the Original Candy Store Begun in 1929 – Later Converted into a Bar and More Recently a Restaurant on Custom House Wharf.

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,214)

The legendary Porthole reopened Sunday morning after having been shut down by the city’s health inspector Thursday afternoon for almost three pagesof hand written health violations.  V iolations ranged from personal hygene, failure to label and date food to a rat infestation in the restaurant.  City officials returned to the restaurant Saturday afternoon and approved its reopening today said Beth Poiras, manager.  “I’m proud of this place,” she said.  The Porthole is located on Custom House Wharf, off Commercial Street.

Violations at The Porthole and two other establishments owned by Oliver Keithly came to the attention of D. Michele Sturgeon, city’s health inspector, in the form of a scathing letter about many conditions at The Portland and who pleaded with the city – “Please do something.”  Will Spear, chef, said he believes the typed anonymous tip came from a former disgruntled employee.  Spear agreed to talkk to mhn.com today inside the restaruant seated at the bar.

Spear did nodt want to talk much about the rat infestation problem.  What he did want to talk about was the suggestion in the “hate” letter than a drug problem exists there.  He acknowledged he does hire people with drug/alcohol addictions.  “You’d be surprised at the amount of people living sober here.  There are employees who are trying to live better,” he said.  Spear often has to schedule employees around appointments.  “At any time we could have a meeting here,” he said grinning.  He also said:  “Everyone is a guest who comes here and they are treated like guests invited to our homes.  People love The Porthole.”

Among the late morning guests at The Porthole on is reopening day, were some who did not of is health violations and resulting two day closure.  Mike Hilcoin, who stops here three or four times a year and is from out-of-state said he didn’t know the restaurant was shut down, but “because the inspector was here, it must be cleaned up.”  However, Flado Novosel, also from out-of-state did know of the shutdown, said:  “I was surprised that the press made such a big deal about it.  Dealing with inspectors is part of the restaurant business.”  William Smith, of MA works four days a week here on Commercial Street said:  “I heard it was shut down, but we have to support local businesses.”

Please see previous post herein for more background information on The Porthole.