The Baskin Robbins shop was shut down by the health department Tuesday morning after Director of Health Ed Briggs said the owner was caught sleeping in the Danbury Road ice cream parlor after numerous warnings to stop.
“We’ve had a continuing problem of her, various complaints about her living there,” Mr. Briggs told The Press.
“The original complaint was about her changing in front of the window one time,” he said. “We thought that had been addressed, and we told her to go in the bathroom and don’t do it in an area that was visible to the public. That was months ago.”
But problems persisted at the shop, he said.
“Once in a while I stop and get Starbucks coffee there,” he said. One time, “I happened to look in the window… I observed her washing her hair in the three-bay sink.”
“We… notified corporate — Dunkin’ Brands, which is the franchisee,” he said. “I talked to the senior quality assurance manager. They gave her a course of action that she was supposed to follow.”
However, “on the 19th she was inspected by our office and the inspector told her, look it’s unorganized, it’s cluttered, it’s unclean, you’ve got a lot of personal items here,” he said.
“This morning I stopped at Starbucks to get coffee again, and I noticed something funny: The door was unlocked and ajar,” Mr. Briggs said.
That struck him as odd for an ice cream shop at 7:30 in the morning.
“I sat and watched” for activity, but not one was going in or out, he said. “I said, What’s going on here — is this lady in here and she’s not OK?” he said, referring to the owner Linda Wang. He thought the store might have been broken into.
“I called police dispatch and they dispatched two cruisers down to the scene… We announced ourselves we knocked on the door. There was no answer. We announced ourselves and went in.
Inside, they “saw the same thing, cluttered a lot of personal belongings,” Mr. Briggs said. “The place wasn’t that clean…
“We found the owner of the business sleeping on the floor with a pillow.”
Ms. Wang said she wasn’t sleeping.
“I didn’t sleep,” she said. “I just laid down because my back had a problem,” she said.
For Mr. Briggs, it was the last straw.
“We said, this is the agreement: You’re not supposed to be sleeping here… You’re not following the directions we gave you. You’re not following the directions your franchise gave you,” he said.
Mr. Briggs told her he was “closing you until at least we get some clear directions from the franchise… what actions [it’s] going to take against you.”
He spoke again with Dunkin’ Brands this morning, he said, and his contact told him he would consult its legal department.
Mr. Briggs is holding off on permanent action until at least Monday, but the shop could lose its license.
“Something’s going to be done, either they’re going to do something about it or I’m going to do something about it,” he said.
“I’ve got to determine whether I’m going to let her reopen under strict surveillance by the franchise… or whether were going to just revoke her license…
“We hate like heck to revoke somebody’s license,” he said, but emphasized, “it can’t be allowed to continue.”
On routine inspections, he said, the shop has varied in code compliance, but generally done well in the past.
“It’s up and down — sometimes she’s gotten 99, 98. Other times it was down to an 82 — she had four-point demerit items…
“It was usually pretty good,” until the problem of Ms. Wang allegedly living in the shop, he said.