The South Dakota Department of Health has filed legal action against JoDean’s in Yankton after multiple health code violations.
In September, JoDean's received a rating score of 76 after an inspector found two critical violations during a routine health inspection.
A follow-up visit last month uncovered five critical violations giving the restaurant a rating score of 65.
Those back-to-back failed inspections prompted the state's Department of Health to file legal action.
After two failed health inspections by the state, JoDean's owner Jack Nielsen says the legal action from the state caught him by surprise.
"And it is like, this is worse than before," Neilsen said. "I mean, he is pointing out things that I didn't even know about."
The owner of 40 years says he was unaware of the critical violations an inspector found in December. He says they range from a sink backflow problem, unlabeled cleaning supplies, and raw chicken placed above pre-cooked ribs which could cause cross-contamination. And while they've since been fixed, he blames inconsistency among investigators.
"I am just running in circles," Nielsen said. "I want to be re-inspected but I am afraid to be re-inspected because what (is the health department) going to throw at me now that I don't even know about?"
KELOLAND News reached out to the state health department which says it will not comment on pending legal actions. Meanwhile, Nielsen says the failed inspections have already caused a 50-percent drop in business.
"I feel extremely hurt. I am not dirty. They found no infractions on food temperatures, on the way the food was prepared. They found no infractions on the buffet, all of the salad temperatures, everything was good. To be honest with you, I don't know."
Nielsen says he's fully prepared for a third inspection Friday, and says he plans to pass with a high score.
Previous inspections in 2012 and 2013 generated three scores: 90, 90 and 94.