Boston's only free-standing Taco Bell had to explain to the Boston Licensing Board today why its late-night manager left two detectives standing in the rain for five minutes before he let them in for an inspection last month.
Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey testified this morning that he and his partner, Daniel MacDonald, drove up to the Taco Bell, 1560 VFW Parkway in West Roxbury shortly after midnight on May 14 to conduct an inspection. Because the dining room was closed, they pulled into the drive-thru lane and when they got to the take-out window in their unmarked white Crown Victoria, MacDonald activated the blue lights, showed his BPD badge and announced they were there to conduct an inspection and to let them in.
Mulvey said they then drove around to the front where the manager met them at the door - but refused to let them in, even as they both showed their BPD badges and as they stood in the rain. After about five minutes, and a phone call to his boss, he let them in - where they found the restaurant had an expired food-serving license and ISD inspectional certificate. They then wrote a citation for that and for refusing entry to police after identification.
A Taco Bell "regional coach" told the board late-night Taco Bell crews are told to never let anybody in under any circumstances after closing without first checking with a manager. Outside of New England, he said, the chain has had problems with late-night robberies.
The detectives and board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini acknowledged the concern, but said Taco Bell should really change its policy to require workers to call 911 instead of a Taco Bell manager. Mulvey said he and MacDonald always check in with BPD dispatchers before they do an inspection and that 911 could have confirmed he and his partner were, in fact, cops and not would-be robbers.
State law requires restaurants to let police in. "God forbid something could be going on in your establishment" that requires immediate police attention, Pulgini said.
The regional coach said the failure to renew the license was a simple oversight at the franchise headquarters in Tennessee and won't happen again.
The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take.