The Sawmill Prime Rib and Steak House in Fort Saskatchewan is taking accountability after a recent visit from Alberta Health Services (AHS).

Through various closures and re-openings during the pandemic, it became tough for the restaurant not only to stay afloat, but an empty building also meant extra behind-the-scenes maintenance with less staff.

Sawmill president Tasker Goodchild was looking forward to getting back into the rhythm of the fast-paced hospitality industry. 

On Apr. 14, AHS issued a closure order to the Sawmill Restaurant. Violations, including the presence of cockroaches, were corrected during their 48-hour closure. 

According to Goodchild, the restaurant had already identified the problem and had a plan in place before the inspector walked in the door and ordered the changes. 

A pest control company, Abel Pest Control, fixed the issue quickly, and AHS completed a second inspection, giving the Sawmill the green light to reopen. 

“It’s a reality that businesses deal with,” he explained. “We acted quickly and professionally and had the problem resolved.”

Other fixes included plumbing and baseboards. 

A social dilemma

It didn’t take long for word of the closure to spread across social media.

Goodchild told MIX 107 that certain portions of an article circulating around the internet were overblown and sensationalized. He noted that specific information was changed multiple times. 

He added the kitchen is spotless and the restaurant is taking the issue seriously, implementing measures to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"We have daily and weekly cleaning schedules that are posted and maintained and managed in our facilities. We've built a reputation on never compromising quality as it pertains to people, product and presentation and we haven't been in this business for 45 years without looking out for the public."

The Sawmill Restaurant Group is a family-owned and operated hospitality company founded in 1976.

“People that work at this restaurant are part of the city and area; they are school teachers, health care professionals, correctional officers supporting the Fort Saskatchewan community as well as working part-time at the Sawmill,” he concluded. 

The Fort Saskatchewan location has been in business for nine years and has been actively involved in the community.

Support from the chamber

The Fort Saskatchewan & District Chamber of Commerce issued a statement in support of the Sawmill.

“Issues arise in all businesses; however, it is the manner in which those issues are handled that ought to reflect on the reputation of that business,” read the statement.

“The management group brought to our attention that there was an AHS issue in April that was immediately addressed to the satisfaction of AHS and had a minor impact on operations.”

The Chamber hosts its annual VIP reception this Friday (Apr. 29) at the Sawmill. This weekend, they will have two booths open at the Fort Saskatchewan Trade Show and Sale.