In the News

Article Published: Dec. 2, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Health Dept. warns of scam

Appalachian District Health Department officials are warning restaurant owners to be careful of a scam targeting food service establishments.

Officials say restaurateurs have reported receiving calls from people claiming to be health inspectors or other government officials who tell the business owners of a new inspection procedure.

The phony "government official" provides a numeric code and instructs the restaurant operator to provide this confirmation code when prompted during an automated call or give the code to a health inspector who is scheduled to visit the restaurant. The caller then says that the health inspector will visit the food service establishment the next day between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., or a similar time-frame.

Danny Staley, health director, said he has learned that other states have been targeted by similar scams. These scams have involved setting up "verified" accounts with a national online auction service. The purpose of the code is to get the restaurant to provide false verification to the online auction service which establishes a bogus online account to be used in other fraud schemes.

Food Service establishments and other business owners need to be aware of this scam and should protect themselves by understanding: Never provide personal or business information by phone unless you are certain of the person with whom you are speaking; Environmental health specialists do not contact establishments in advance to schedule a routine inspection; A new inspection procedure has not been developed and any "government official" who asks you to provide a given code through an automated call system or to an inspector is part of a fraud scheme; Ask for proper photo identification if you do not recognize any inspector.

There have been no reports of phony inspectors arriving at any establishment targeted by the scam in North Carolina. However, owners and operators should immediately contact local law enforcement if they suspect they are being targeted by a scam.

Questions about the identity of any environmental health specialist authorized to inspect in North Carolina should be directed to the N.C. Division of Environmental Health at (919) 733-2884 or Appalachian District Health Department at (828) 264-4995.

Koncepts Hookah to close Dec. 17

Koncepts Hookah Lounge is closing its doors, owner Jesse Kellogg confirmed Wednesday.

"We will be closing our doors Dec. 17 and will no longer be operating at 809 West King Street," he said. "Basically, I had a bad business partner ... and have to close to protect myself."

But, hookah lovers, all is not lost.

"We'll be reappearing in 2011, so be on the lookout," he said.

When asked for details, Kellogg said, "The only hint I can give is to be on the lookout."

In the meantime, Kellogg plans to close out the business (in operation for just more than a year) in style.

Starting Dec. 2, Koncepts will open at noon to provide a "chiller, more comfortable alternative for studying instead of the library."

Prices this week have been slashed and will continue to fall. For Dec. 15, 16 and 17, Koncepts will sell its rotating Super Nova hookahs for "ridiculously low, low prices."

Kellogg's optimistic about the future and hopes his customers (and Facebook fans) will bear with him as he prepares for the "Koncepts revolution."

"Basically it's a new beginning," he said. "I would just like to say, come in and talk to us about the past. If you have any good memories from Koncepts, come in and share them with us."

Despite the slashed prices and extended hours, business will continue as usual through Dec. 17.
Saturday, Fiends and Fools play at Koncepts for a $2 cover charge.

Monday marks Koncepts' D-Day Dance Party for reading day, the last dance party at Koncepts, and Kellogg's expecting a crowd.

For further updates, he suggests joining the Koncepts Hookah Lounge group on Facebook.

Westglow recognized by Relais & Chateaux

At the 36th International Relais & Chateaux Congress in Capetown, South Africa, Westglow Resort & Spa was inducted as a new member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux.

Relais & Chateaux reviewed 100 candidates around the world with "a commitment to selecting only outstanding properties with a truly unique character, ambience, food and service."

Westglow was one of five United States properties to earn this exclusive distinction.

The news came along with an announcement that actor Richard Gere will be the 2011 ambassador for Relais & Chateaux.

There are only 42 properties with this distinction in the United States.

"We are in very good company in our region with the Inn at Little Washington, Blackberry Farm and the Fearrington House," a Westglow spokesperson said. "To receive this distinction from Relais & Chateaux is a great honor and a testament to Westglow's remarkable legacy, extraordinary staff and exemplary service and cuisine."

Westglow Resort and Spa is the former residence of the famous artist and author Elliott Daingerfield, whose works hang in museums including the Metropolitan in New York and the National Gallery in D.C.

Heinlein elected to Avery chamber board

Julia Heinlein, owner of Antler Realty (, has been elected to the Avery County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

"Julia has done a lot for our community and her creative marketing skills and energy will bring a lot to the table for us," said Susan Freeman, executive Director of the Avery chamber.

Julia's real estate company, Antler Realty, is located in Banner Elk on N.C. 184 in the Red Caboose next door to the T-shirt shop. For more information, call (828) 898-3111.

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