A statewide look at Florida’s top restaurant violations for 2017-18
This week’s “Sick and Shut Down List” of restaurants brings two weeks’ worth of restaurants that failed state inspection in Monroe, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Before we get going on the list, here’s an update on Hepatitis A, one of the reasons inspectors don’t play when it comes to handwashing.
According to the Florida Department of Health’s Reportable Disease Frequency tracker, there have been 883 cases of Hep A in Florida this year. That surpasses the whole year of 218 (548), the combined yearly totals of 2017 and 2018 (809) and the combined yearly totals of 2014 through 2017 (574). Pasco and Pinelles Counties account for 386 cases or 43.7 percent of the Florida’s total. Miami-Dade has 13 cases, Broward has eight, Palm Beach has five and Monroe has none.
What follows comes directly from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspections of restaurants. We don’t control who gets inspected (although you might by filing a complaint here) or how strictly they’re inspected. We report without passion or prejudice, but with a heapin’ helpin’ of humor.
And we go in alphabetical order:
Captain’s Tavern, 9621 S. Dixie Hwy, South Miami-Dade — Right off the bat, we’ve got at least 45 live roaches and two dead ones doing more than stopping over in the Tavern. Over 10 of the live ones were in a reach-in cooler gasket and another five were under a kitchen prep table.
“In-use tongs stored on equipment door handle between uses.”
“Wall soiled with accumulated black debris in dishwashing area.”
The Captain’s place passed Wednesday’s re-inspection.
China Star, 1501 S. U.S. 1, Stuart — Life in South Florida: three live roaches seen on the wall behind the dishwasher.
Live on the Sick and Shut Down List: “Live roaches, approximately 30 or more, too many to count at once when they scattered upon lifting up plastic storage containers on high shelf over dish machine in kitchen.”
And another “10-15 dead roaches on high shelf with takeout containers stored.”
“Two containers of marinating raw chicken on floor under kitchen prep table.” Maybe the China Star folks figure the roaches like the high wall life and won’t scurry down to the floor.
There was no soap or paper towels at the handwashing sink.
When the inspector came back on April 13, he saw 14 roaches including “over 10 live roaches scatter when items moved out of the way on high shelf over beverage station in server area.”
With two days to recover, China Star passed the re-re-inspection on April 15.
Dunkin’ Donuts, 500 State Rd. 7, Royal Palm Beach — Back on April 12, this Dunkin’ overdid it on flies and recycling.
“Over 100 small live flies in back storage/prep area at drain of three-compartment sink and at base of hot water heater. Observed flies landing on walls and at shelves that sugar, sprinkles and single serve deli paper are stored on.”
That’s ickier and more common than “reuse of single-service articles. Establishment with empty milk containers on shelf. Employee stated they are sometimes used for water for cleaning.”
Hole in or other damage to the wall, as in “at drain of three-compartment sink hole larger than drain pipe.”
This store passed a same day re-inspection.
Dunkin’ Brands emailed a statement to The Herald that read, “The health and safety of customers is our top priority. We have stringent food safety and quality standards, and we take great pride in the food and beverages served to our guests every day. We take the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s assessment of the franchised Dunkin’ restaurant in Royal Palm Beach very seriously. The franchisee who owns and operates the location has corrected all of the issues addressed during the inspection. We also immediately sent one of our certified operations managers to meet with the franchisee, inspect the store, and ensure that all appropriate Dunkin’ food safety guidelines are being followed.”
Nine Miami Herald restaurant inspection stories since June 29, 2017 have featured a Dunkin’ store.
Gigi’s Gourmet Catering, 1082 NW 54th St., Miami — Eight live roaches hung out inside the microwave oven.
No way to dry your hands at the bathroom handwash sink. That’s a problem when there was a “lack of toilet tissue at each toilet.”
The ice machine had not only the “black/green mold-like substance” but water leaking from a pipe.
Soiled reach-in cooler gaskets and an oven with a “heavy accumulation of black substance/grease/food debris.”
Gigi’s passed the Aug. 12 re-inspection.
iSushi, 8970 Cleary Blvd., Plantation — The roaches didn’t need to be inside, although 10 were, including four in a flip top cooler in front of a stove. They could have hung out by the dumpster because the inspector found this place to be serving something close to gas station sushi.
A Stop Sale got dropped on sushi rice from the night before left outside in an Igloo cooler. The yellow tail and escolar served raw in the sushi rolls had not “undergone proper parasite destruction.”
“Faucets leaking and water unable to be turned on and off at faucets at handwash sink at cookline.” Also, that handwash sink was used as a dump sink.
And i doesn’t sound as if it were used that much for its stated raison d’etre. “Accumulation of food debris/soil residue on handwash sink at cookline.”
“Menu contains an item made with a raw/undercooked animal food as an ingredient and description of item does not inform consumer of raw/undercooked animal food ingredient.”
Kelly’s Cajun Grill, 20505 S. Dixie Hwy., South Miami-Dade — Another battleground in the never ending Vermin Wars, Rodents vs. Roaches.
Friday, the rodents marked their territory with “approximately 10-plus rodent droppings found on top of the soap container located next to the three-compartment sink in the kitchen area...approximately 20-plus rodent droppings under shelving used to store bean, salt, flour, and dry pasta in the kitchen area.”
Meanwhile, 10 defiant roaches marched on a rack with soda boxes next to the three-compartment sink.
Cooked chicken from Thursday wasn’t marked with a date in the walk-in cooler.
Standing water in the kitchen area.
“Accumulation of food debris/grease on food contact surface” as in the inside of the reach-in cooler, the inside of the microwave, the inside of the oven and the walk-in cooler shelves.
Kelly’s, inside the Southland Mall, got the inspector out of its grill with a passing showing Saturday.
La Bodega, 13774 SW 88th St., South Miami-Dade — In the kitchen dishware area: three live roaches and four dead roaches were on a shelf with clean pans. On top of a dishwaster: more than 12 dead roaches. On top of the microwave oven: more than six dead roaches.
“Room temperature” doesn’t count as keeping your food properly warmed, even in South Florida, so the chicken empanadas and beef empanadas in the malfunctioning hot holding unit got tossed.
Cooked octopus in a reach-in freezer wasn’t covered.
“Soil residue” in food storage containers in the walk-in cooler and dry storage area.
“Interior of reach-in cooler soiled with accumulation of food residue.” Which one? “All coolers in the kitchen.”
La Bodega reopened after passing Thursday’s re-inspection.
Leamington Hotel, 307 NE First St., Miami — The inspector shut down what food service the Leamington provided last month. They resumed anyway.
The inspector returned Thursday to find “Establishment operating after issuance of an Emergency Order of Suspension of license. At the time of the inspection observed establishment serving pound cake slices and bread wrapped in Saran Wrap also observed butter packs. Approximately five guests eating at the time of the inspection.”
So, what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate. Failure to clean, too.
When the inspector came by in March, the Leamington was serving food in an area still under construction. The inspector shut it down on March 12 for not having a handwashing sink or three-compartment sink among other violations, then kept it shut after a failed March 13 inspection.
And that was still the case Thursday, with no handwashing sink, no three-compartment sink, no dishwasher and “equipment not being washed, rinsed and sanitized.”
The Leamington failed Friday’s comeback. Nobody answered at the hotel when we called to inquire about their defiance, even if said defiance is just serving bread with room temperature butter.
Lombardi’s Pizza, 11130 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise — Want a Coke with that slice? “...ice machine interior moldy with mold dripping directly onto drink ice.”
The inspector dropped a Stop Sale on three 6-pound dented cans of Luigi’s tomatoes and 10 gallons of pizza sauce cooling overnight because it was still at 60 degrees and needed to be at 41.
There were 26 roaches running around, including one on carry out containers, one on foam bowls, one on top of a prep table.
But this is one time the dead roaches might have been worse. “Observed dead roaches with egg cases intact throughout establishment; too numerous to count; on floor; in dining room; on floor by ice machine; hallway towards kitchen; in entire kitchen area; and on top of dishwashing machine.”
More than 10 flies “flying around and landing on glasses.”
“Observed pizza cook touching ready to eat pizza with bare hands.”
The handwash sink was being used for utensil storage. Not that there were soap or paper towels there if someone wanted to use it.
“Soiled cutting board by pizza station.” “Encrusted material on can opener blade.”
And this is only a fraction of what Lombardi’s corrected in time for Friday’s re-inspection.
Los Tacos by Chef Omar, 230 S. University Dr., Pompano Beach — Among the foods a taco joint doesn’t want turned into a hazard because it’s kept at an improper temperature: salsa. It needed to be at or under 41 degrees. It moved the mercury to 68.
That wasn’t spilled taco seasoning, but rather 59 dead roaches and 12 live ones, including four live ones at a side prep area and 20 “behind and under Victory freezer at the cookline.”
Look at the space between, say, your stove and countertop. Then read “In-use knife/knives stored in cracks between pieces of equipment.”
Handwash sink not accessible for employee use due to being blocked by equipment at cookline.
“Accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine.”
This Los Tacos store recovered to pass re-inspection the next day.
May’s Kitchen, 19 N. Federal Hwy., Pompano Beach — Let’s count the rodent dung.
“Approximately 10 fresh rodent droppings behind box and under air handler in the closet off the storeroom...three fresh rodent droppings behind cans at bottom of a shelf in the storeroom ... three fresh droppings behind the front counter cabinet under cables...two fresh droppings next to a gap at back door.”
As for the flies, two landed on reach in freezer and one landed on shelf at rice cooker.
“Build-up of mold-like substance on nonfood-contact surface. Shelves at cook line are soiled.”
“In-use knife/knives stored in cracks between pieces of equipment. Knife stored under fan at cook line.”
Nikudo Japanese Buffet, 18812 S. Dixie Hwy., Cutler Bay — So, which of the 44 violations shall we put batting leadoff? (Certainly, none will be batting cleanup).
Seems as if Nikudo’s little furry ones like the sugary drinks with “50-plus rodent droppings found around the corners of the dry storage area where bottle drinks are stored. Also observed 20-plus rodent droppings around soda station located next to cookline area.”
“Self-service salad bar/buffet lacking adequate sneezeguards or other proper protection from contamination.”
“Accumulation of food debris/grease on food-contact surface. Reach in cooler interior, reach in cooler shelves, oven interior, ice machine interior.”
“Employee was cleaning the shelves in cookline area then proceeded to cook without washing hands.”
Then again, there was an equipment drain line draining into the handwashing sink.
That April 15 failure was followed by an April 16 failure that featured the inspector dropping Stop Sales like jacks on imitation krab, raw tuna, raw salmon, sauce containers, cream cheese and cooked egg stored in a reach-in cooler with not enough cool.
Otherwise, gaskets were still torn and surfaces remained filthy.
Nikudo got it together for Wednesday’s re-re-inspection.
Rivera Sandwich Shop, 3100 Flagler Ave., Key West — Go to the three-compartment sink, where the cookware gets cleaned and sanitized, and there were eight live roaches crawling around the sink and another three scaling the wall.
Another place that needs to drop a few bucks on kitchenware. “Clean utensils stored between equipment and wall. Observed knife stored in between the bread container and shelf in the kitchen area.”
“Nonfood-grade bags used in direct contact with food. Observed garbage bags used to store Cuban bread.” Well, garbage bags were on BOGO bargain at Winn-Dixie last week.
At time of call back inspection, there were a number of the same violations — including the garbage bags with Cuban bread and food debris all over the refrigerator — and the two roaches promenading across the kitchen floor.
Somebody at Riviera eventually figured out the inspector wanted them actually to fix the problems pointed out and actually clean the filthy places that helped the sandwich joint get closed.
Sbarro, 801 Congress Ave., Boynton Beach — On a rare occasion, it only takes one violation to close a restaurant.
On April 8, “sewage/wastewater backing up through floor drains .... gray water back up from floor drains dishwashing area, throughout kitchen....when using the three-compartment sink, hand sink and prep sink sewage water backup from the floor drain.”
The next day, when the inspector returned, the plumber was still working on the drain. So, the inspector left to do whatever inspectors do when they need to kill time — inspect something else? Tools? Underwear? — then came back to find things working.
Venus Restaurant, 13785 NW Seventh Ave., North Miami-Dade — About 23 live roaches were spotted running around, including two crawling on top of a flour container, and about 30 dead ones laying around.
The Stop Sales dropped like knowledge on food made hazardous for “temperature abuse:” stewed turkey; corn meal; cooked liver and, from the malfunctioning reach-in cooler, boiled conch.
The container with okra had a cracked lid. Otherwise, Venus got dinged for being a little too dirty
“Excessive accumulation of grease and debris on the wall behind and on the side of cooking equipments and warewashing area.”
“Observed soiled gaskets with debris and a mold-like substance on reach-in freezers and reach-in coolers.” Which ones? “All of them.”
“All throughout the establishment, food debris and grease under cooking equipments and behind cold holding units.”
The inspector gave Venus two days to come correct. That wasn’t enough time.
Part of the fail on April 12 were the 10 roaches, of the 15 seen alive, “crawling underneath the front counter.”
So, the third time would be the charm, right? Six dead and eight live roaches in the kitchen on Wednesday.
Given another two days, Venus finally passed on the fourth try.