“Sometimes my sauce can get a little spicy,” the 85-year-old owner of Casale’s Halfway Club said jokingly. “My friends say, ‘Uh oh, she’s mad!’ ”
And having made pasta sauce inside the square, weathered building that has stood the test of time after 75 years in business, Stempeck has many friends. And many stories to tell.
However, these stories can only be told by sitting down at one of the red booths or tables inside her cozy, family restaurant on East Fourth Street in Reno. While Stempeck’s meatball sandwich speaks for itself, her establishment is one of thousands profiled on the Washoe County Health District’s new online service that makes reports on restaurants, bars, bakeries, mobile food vendors, delicatessens and other sites available to the public at http://washoeeats.washoecounty.us.
The county went live in February with the web search tool for the public to look up thousands of inspected sites in the Reno, Sparks, Washoe County and Incline Village, said health district spokesman Phil Ulibarri.
Although Stempeck’s current score on the site is a perfect 100, she isn’t fond of the new technology.
“I really don’t like it, but there’s not much you can do about it,” Stempeck said.
Establishments that serve or prepare food are inspected and graded regularly by the county health district. If standards aren’t met, the establishment loses points. These are the scores listed on the WashoeEats website. Although these scores have always been public information, the public would usually have to wait for the scores to be published.
Stampeck’s parents, who emigrated from Italy, opened the small eatery when Fourth Street was alive with motels filled with working-class folks. A mother of six herself, Stempeck remembers setting a table on the back porch and feeding neighborhood children supper when their parents were off working.
“That’s the way it still is today,” she said.
Stempeck still does everything by scratch. She doesn’t own a microwave or a radio.
“I’m 85 and I’m still working. I work circles around ‘em. I make my raviolis every day. Some days we sell 50 dozen in a day,” she said. “People come here when they’re happy, when they’re sad. One lady lost her husband a week or two ago and she told me, ‘I just had to get my ravioli fix.’”
The first weekend that the Washoe County Health District went live with its new public website “we had over 2,700 hits,” Ulibarri said. The official announcement about the site was made at a Board of Health meeting Feb. 23.
“The feedback in general … is that it is very informative,” Ulibarri said. “People spend a lot of time to see what scores are like. It’s another resource people can use to find establishments and where they should eat.”
The health district expects the program will benefit restaurant owners and managers in the long run as the scores will be more accessible to the public.
“It’s more easily accessible,” Ulibarri said. “They’ll make sure the scores start high and stay high.”
The public is able to search inspected food establishment scores by four categories: name, street name, city and type of facility.
If a searcher can’t find an establishment, try, try again. Using a partial name or street address sometimes does the trick. The heath district is taking feedback on this phase of the project, which was built in-house, Ulibarri said.
New restaurants will be added as they come online.
“When a new mobile restaurant opens and we go in there, within 24 hours, there will be an online review,” he said.
Data on the new site goes back to 2008 and is updated daily. For more information about WashoeEats, contact the Washoe County Health District Environmental Health Services Division at 328-2434.