City officials closed the 99 Restaurant in Augusta Thursday because of health and safety code violations. The bar and restaurant at 281 Civic Center Drive is part of a national chain that serves pub-style food. Ashley Allen/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — City officials temporarily closed a popular chain restaurant Thursday after finding “serious” code violations and “imminent health hazards.” 

The director of Augusta’s Code Enforcement Bureau, Rob Overton, ordered the 99 Restaurant at 281 Civic Center Drive to close temporarily because of a major leak in the sprinkler system and a “substantial amount of wastewater in the basement.”

Overton said violations that affect the safety and health of customers result in the immediate closure of the restaurant. The restaurant can only reopen after it is checked by Overton, the fire department and state health inspectors.

“The closure is necessary to ensure the safety of the employees and patrons,” Overton said.

Other violations included a faulty fire alarm system, serious serious electrical issues throughout the building, mold in the basement, an unsanitary kitchen area, grease behind and near the cooking equipment, rotten and moldy food in the walk-in refrigerator and emergency exits blocked or not lit up. 

The Augusta Fire Department found several of the issues when they responded to the pub-style bar and restaurant Wednesday night after the business’ fire alarm detected a water flow.


Firefighters noted the sprinkler system has a major leak that sprayed water into the seated bar area and soaked portions of the electrical system. They also noted a leak in the women’s bathroom, likely from the sprinkler system.

Fire officials told Overton, who inspected the restaurant around 11 a.m. on Thursday and determined it needed to close. Manager Ken Stinchfield, complied with the order, Overton said. 

Overton sent the violations in a report to the state health inspector and noted that Stinchfield said the wastewater incident “occurred yesterday (Wednesday) as the result of a clogged drain leading to the grease interceptor.” 

The 99 Restaurant passed its last recorded state health inspection on Jan. 4, 2022, but had five “non-critical” violations regarding food sanitary measures and restaurant cleanliness. 

“We haven’t determined the full scope of work that will need to be completed in order to reopen,” Overton said. “I suspect it will be the sprinkler and fire alarm repaired, having the wastewater properly cleaned from the basement, the electrical system inspected and repaired by a licensed electrician and the kitchen cleaned to have the grease accumulations removed.” 

Overton said officials have seen “lots of issues like these” related to maintenance issues in restaurants in the area.

“We think a lot of it has to do with staffing shortages and not enough people on hand to do the maintenance and cleaning required,” he said.

Stinchfield answered the phone Thursday but said no one was available to talk and forwarded the call to the 99 Restaurant’s cooperate division.

A spokesperson for 99 Restaurant said Thursday afternoon that all the chain’s restaurants must comply with local health and safety guidelines and could not comment further. Additionally, he would not comment about whether the national restaurant chain would pay employees for the time they were scheduled to work while the Augusta location is closed.

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