Restaurant News & Reviews

Poop in the oven, live rodents, dead rodents — and 12 restaurants are shut down

“Observed live rodent on glue trap under dry storage shelving near chest freezer.”

And, away we go. Fasten your seat belts … it’s going to be a bumpy ride across rodents and rodent droppings noted on recent state restaurant inspections in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

READ MORE: Go to the Dining Adviser for reviews and inspection reports.

A long one, too, as a record 16 establishments make this the Rodent Report. And the quantity is matched by lack of quality —two places were shut down on re-inspection after passing inspection. And two restaurants got shut down twice in this report.

As always, we present these without passion or prejudice, but with two tablespoons of humor. As usual, we start with the restaurants shut down for the day (or more) wholly or partially on rodent presence.

▪ Alegria Taco, 3801 N. Andrews Ave., Oakland Park — This might be the first restaurant on the Rodent Report to get caught on the comeback.

A Warning Issued, but no rodent problems on Feb. 8. But when the inspector swung back by on Feb. 9, “five fresh rodent droppings found underneath the three-compartment sink and three dry rodent droppings found in kitchen underneath the handwashing sink.”

And, that was the end of Alegria Taco for Feb. 9. The Feb. 10 re-inspection rolled the taco joint open again.

▪ The Back of the Road Sports Grill, 15420 SW 136th St., South Miami-Dade — The inspector closed the place down on Feb. 13 without any rodent issues among the High Priority violations. There was also a Stop Sale issued on some chicken wings for temperature abuse.

Among the Basic violations: “Dead rodent present. Observed a dead mouse in front bar area by beer keg coolers.”

▪ Bob the Baker, 4518 NW 183rd St., Miami Gardens — The inspector on Feb. 13 saw three moist droppings on a bucket and four moist ones on a wall lining by a mop sink in the kitchen.’

None of the three employee handwashing sinks had hot water, nor did a three-compartment sink. At the handwashing sink, the inspector saw an employee and a manager wash their hands without soap.

Stop sales were slapped on soaked beans and “guava cheese.” Bob the Baker was shut down for Feb. 13 and opened again Feb. 14.

▪ Dunkin’ Donuts, 7823 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation — Not often do we see a big chain on the Rodent Report. The home office in Canton, Mass., won’t be happy.

This Dunkin’ got a hint and a half when the Feb. 9 inspection ended with Administrative Complaint Recommended, meaning you’re a sneeze from being shut down. The inspector saw only six violations, but saw “nine dried rat droppings on glue trap under rolling rack by drive thru, one dead lizard on glue trap under refrigerator No. 3. Observed two dried rodent droppings on second shelf where to-go beverage holders are stored at front counter.”

When the inspector returned Feb. 10, things didn’t look much better with nine dry droppings in such places as the drive-thru window, underneath the front counter and behind the ice machine. So with two days to get things in order, what happened on Feb. 12, a Monday? Shut down.

There were other problems, such as the back exit blocked on each inspection by a rolling cart, rack or garbage can, a major fire safety no-no. As for rodents, the inspector saw “eight fresh rodent droppings in dry storage area on food storage shelves, three fresh droppings in a storage area on the ice machine, three dry rodent droppings in the storage area on the Belshaw Adamatic oventop and one dry rodent dropping under a storage shelf next to the sandwich station.”

Come Feb. 13, the dropping count on the Belshaw Adamatic oventop was down to one, but Dunkin’ still didn’t open. They got “Emergency Callback Time Extension,” which means the restaurant’s trying to comply, but can’t because of circumstances beyond its control.

▪ Grio Express, 4308 SR 7, Lauderdale Lakes — Don’t know what the food portion size is at Grio, but they gave the inspector rodent poop by the pound on Jan. 31, hitting triple digits in one spot: 100 fresh droppings behind the two glass doors by reach-in cooler at prep area.

There were another 20 fresh droppings behind reach-in cooler in the kitchen. Unfortunately for Grio, all that didn’t distract the inspector from the proliferation of roaches — 10 live ones around the reach-in cooler and another 10 live under it, as well as two live ones under shelves by the kitchen prep table. Some turkey and griot had to be tossed after being kept at too warm a temperature.

Grio was back open Feb. 1. And it was closed again Feb. 15.

The inspector didn’t need to see the 20 fresh poop pellets behind a freezer or 30 fresh ones behind a prep table and reach-in cooler. A larger piece of evidence, a dead rodent, sat on the glue pad behind the freezer in the dry storage area.

And there were more live roaches: 16 of them. And three times as many varieties of food tossed on a Stop Sale for temperature abuse: chicken, turkey, cooked turkey, pork, goat. Grio opened the next day again.

▪ Hazel’s Caribbean Spot, 6949 Sunset Strip, Sunrise – Four fresh droppings on the wall with the back door helped close this spot on Feb. 17.

So did “10 live roaches under the three-compartments sink, four live roaches by the reach cooler, two live roaches by the prep table in kitchen area. Observed five live roaches at hallway, one live roach by the microwave in the kitchen area.”

Roaches were at the three-compartment sink, but no hot water.

Hazel’s failed two re-inspections before passing on Tuesday.

▪ La Cueva Taberna Internacional, 2742 SW Eighth St., Miami — Before Feb. 2, the inspector hadn’t visited since a clean inspection Feb. 1, 2017. There was slippage.

Let’s start with “five fresh-looking rodent droppings found on top of the shelf in kitchen area.” Then, move past the live roaches spotted to “manager handled soiled equipment then touched raw chicken and did not wash hands.”

Speaking of raw chicken, a bucket of it sat in the handwashing sink. The slicer blade, cooking equipment, prep tables, food storage shelves had too much buildup of grease, soil deposits or food debris.

La Cueva flunked the followup on Feb. 3 because, among other things, there were five fresh-looking rodent droppings found on top of the shelf in the kitchen area. As many of the violations repeated themselves on Feb. 5, so did re-inspection failure. The restaurant improved enough to reopen after the Feb. 6 re-inspection and passed the Feb. 20 inspection with just a warning.

▪ O King Grill, 13695 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami — There are some places inspectors just don’t want to see a rodent trap: “Observed a rodent trap inside oven in kitchen area.”

The inspector didn’t see a victim in the trap. What were seen on Feb. 2 as far as droppings (all described as “dry, but not crumbly”): 30 inside the kitchen oven (so much for the trap); 35 in another kitchen oven; 20 on the floor next to the three-compartment sink; five on a shelf under a preparation table in the kitchen area; 20 behind the hot holding unit in kitchen area; six on a dry storage shelf under a preparation table; and four on self-service area under coffee machine and next to single-device coffee cups.

Seeing whatever produced that last quartet of “dry but not crumbly” droppings might wake you up faster than the coffee. Also, there were rodent rub marks on the back wall next to a window and the wall next to the walk-in cooler.

There also was this: “Observed approximately 40 live flies in the kitchen area, by onions box, and throughout kitchen. Observed approximately 20 live flies by self service counter next to soda machine.”

And the kitchen handwashing sinks didn’t have soap or drying method.

And this: “Woman toilet flush in disrepair.”

Except for the toilet problem, O King Grill got it together enough to be allowed to reopen after the Feb. 3 re-inspection.

▪ Pi Bon Gou, 2551 N. Dixie Hwy., Pompano Beach — Pi Bon Gou joins Grio Express as groundbreakers, the first two to be shut down twice in this same report.

The restaurant was shut down on two completely different sequences of inspection.

When the inspector came by on Jan. 29: “Observed approximately two fresh rodent droppings near dishwashing area, six fresh rodent droppings on the floor on the north side wall in prep area, two dry rodent droppings behind cookline equipment, and 10 fresh and 42 dry rodent droppings on shelving unit next to steam table at cookline.”

Also, a “food storage container lid with rodent droppings on top of it and tray with sauces with rodent droppings on it not cleaned and sanitized.”

On the Jan. 30 re-inspection, Pi Bon got “Emergency Order Callback, Time Extension.”

But on Feb. 13, Pi Bon was open, the inspector was back and … “twenty-three fresh rodent droppings in the restroom. Sixteen fresh rodent droppings in hallway between the kitchen and restroom. Two fresh rodent droppings next to the Kenmore freezer by cookline. Two fresh rodent droppings under the prep table at cookline. One fresh rodent dropping under microwave table. One dry rodent dropping behind chest freezer at the cookline. One fresh rodent dropping on top of slicer by steam table. One fresh rodent dropping by dry storage shelving next to steam table.”

The poop on the slicer earned the place another demerit under “food-contact surfaces not sanitized after cleaning, before use.”

There was a stop sale put on the cooked spinach, cooked hamburgers and cooked goat/turkey stew for being kept at a dangerously improper temperature. The stew would’ve gone anyway — “turkey and pork stew with mold like build up at cooler in front line area.”

On Feb. 14, Pi Bon got “Emergency Order Callback, Time Extension” again.

▪ Ric Kin Bing Cuban Cafe Corp, 640 E. Sample Rd., Pompano Beach — The rodents here apparently sensed the inspector on Jan. 31 coming and scurried away, with a little of the poop scared out of them: “five fresh rodent droppings in restroom and one fresh rodent dropping on top of microwave at cookline. Observed two dry rodent droppings in dry storage room and two dry rodent droppings in cookline area on top of AC vent.”

The six dead insects under a prep table in the front counter area also earned the inspector’s notice. As did the “accumulation of dead insects on glue trap behind chest freezer in dry storage room. Glue trap discarded.”

They got back open and stayed open after a Feb. 15 inspection during which they drew a warning.

▪ Saveur Tropical Restaurant, 515 NE 24th St., Pompano Beach — Here’s where, on Jan. 29, the inspector “observed live rodent on glue trap under dry storage shelving near chest freezer.”

The rodent wast removed. Smaller but more persistently omnipresent were the flies: “Observed approximately six live flies in dishwashing area, three live flies in dry storage area, and four live flies in cookline area. Observed one live fly land on cutting board by steam table and one land on food storage container on prep table at cookline. Also observed 30-40 live flies at the mop sink right outside the back door where dirty food storage containers are being stored. The flies in the outside area observed to be coming in and out of the establishment when the doors are kept open.”

Now to the food or what was left of the food after Saveur had to toss raw beef, okra, turkey, legume, rice, turkey drumsticks and cooked beef that were kept at dangerously improper temperatures. The inspector also noticed “old food stuck to clean dishware/utensils on shelving unit near back door.” How that dishware got clean isn’t explained, a necessary piece of information after Saveur was cited for “Chlorine sanitizer not at proper minimum strength for manual warewashing.”

Speaking of proper washing, the handwash sink was obstructed by a garbage can. There wasn’t soap or any way to dry hands there anyway.

Most of this got corrected on the spot. Saveur reopened and has since passed another inspection.

▪ A Taste of the City Cafe, 9940 Griffin Rd. Cooper City — Were these rodents trying to take the Pepsi Challenge, when the Taste got called foul on Feb. 15? The inspector saw 23 fresh droppings in cupboards with Coca-Cola syrup. Four dry ones in the dining room and another two in the passageway at the restroom. There were three fresh rodent droppings in kitchen between flip top cooler and food prep table.

The inspector also wasn’t happy about two people working with food without a hair net. Turkey and several soup containers in the reach-in cooler were made two days beforehand, but nobody marked their ages.

The Taste got back in your mouth Feb. 16.

Rodents don’t automatically shut down a place. For instance:

▪ Casa Chan, 445 Palm Ave., Hialeah — Five dry poop droppings on a shelf in a storage room with equipment and containers not in use.

▪ La Provence 41st, 433 W. 41st St., Miami Beach — Rodents like the damp. The inspector saw 40 dry rodent droppings by a water heater on Feb. 14. The place apparently now is named La Provence French Bakery & Cafe under new ownership. The Feb. 16 food licensing inspection was clean.

▪ Sawgrass Inn & Conference Center Banquet Kitchen, 1711 N. University Dr., Plantation — The inspector “observed 15 dry rodent droppings near the three-compartment sink, storage area and rear exit door.”

▪ Tony’s Place, 17721 NW 78th Ave., North Miami-Dade — The inspector saw 13 “dry but not crumbly” poop pellets on the floor under dry storage by the water heater

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal