Lloyd Allen is one of the most chill people I know.
The owner of Double L Market has cultivated a loyal clientele. Customers love his fresh, local, organic, free-range, gluten-free and grass-fed meats, produce, seafood and more. They come not just to buy, but to banter with him.
He’s been operating for more than 30 years, first in actual farm stands, now in a Post Road store next to Calise’s.
But yesterday Lloyd was upset. Also angry, appalled and disheartened.
His voice shook as he told me that 2 weeks earlier, the Westport Weston Health District inspected Double L, and gave him a 94.
On Wednesday, another inspection. Another grade of 94.
But then, he said, he got a call. There was a problem with labeling, he was told. He said he’d be in at 8:45 yesterday morning.
At the meeting he was told: “You’ve got a serious problem. We’re going to close you down today.”
The problem was with labels on salsa, tomato sauce and canned peppers. They did not include the weight, or indicate where the products came from.
He asked exactly what was needed to rectify the problem. “I don’t know,” a young inspector told him.
She said the state Department of Consumer Protection might be involved too.
Lloyd told “06880” that Double L buys from producers with HACCP food safety accreditation — “and you can’t get higher than that.”
The WWHD inspector came into his store, and embargoed everything she said was improperly labeled.
Lloyd does not dispute the need for proper labeling. His issue, he says, is that he was not told earlier about the issue, offered a chance to rectify it — or even given the proper information on what he needed to do.
He is also furious at the way he was treated.
“They showed me no respect,” he said. “I’ve been here for 35 years. I have the healthiest, freshest stuff in town. I love local. I work with big farmers and small farmers.
“I’ve made this town better. I’ve worked with so many kids. The Health Department used to come in, and tell me what was needed. This time they just came in and acted, without any respect at all.”
He worried yesterday he might be shut down, right before Mother’s Day.
Double L Market is still open — though there are empty shelves where his salsa, tomato sauce and canned peppers used to be.
“It’s like I was walking down the street with my baby, and someone suddenly grabbed me and shook the baby,” Lloyd said.
“That’s how I feel about the way I was treated.”