Restaurant News & Reviews

Rodents on water, in soda, on pipes get 13 South Florida restaurants cited.

Let’s talk some poop before we get this edition of the Rodent Report rolling.

Rarely do restaurant inspectors actually see a rodent (although that rarity does occur in this Rodent Report). Usually, they see the pellets the rodents leave behind and note whether they’re “fresh droppings” or “dry droppings.”

As for how much time it takes the former to become the latter, Massachusetts-based Colonial Pest explains, “Mouse droppings start to become hard several hours after they are deposited (but in a really damp area, they may stay soft for some time). The surface eventually becomes dry and dull-looking. Old droppings are grayish, dusty-looking, and crumble easily when pressed.”

What follows comes from state restaurant inspections, brought to you without passion or prejudice, but with two scoops of humor.

As usual, we start with the restaurants that got shut down for the day wholly or partially for being too rodent-y.

▪ Cabo Blanco, 948 NE 62nd St., Oakland Park — You get the feeling the Pixies and Dixies scurried into the walls just before the inspector showed up on March. 19: “Eleven fresh rodent droppings found in dry storage area, three fresh rodent droppings found in kitchen behind hot water heater, two dry rodent droppings found in kitchen underneath food preparation table, three fresh rodent droppings found in kitchen next to Atosa reach-in cooler, three fresh rodent droppings found next to flip top cooler on cookline and three fresh rodent droppings found in dishwashing area.”

Also, they didn’t bother to cover the cooked chicken and pork made the previous day. And what kind of dish washing occurs when there’s an “accumulation of lime scale on the inside of the dishmachine?”

Cabo Blanco came correct on March 20.

▪ Downtown Pizza Grill, 906 NE 62nd St., Oakland Park — If the March 15 inspector was a classic rock fan, hard to believe he/she wasn’t thinking, “Poooop on the waaaater...rodents near the mixer.”

Because the extensive cataloging of the droppings began with “four fresh rodent droppings found on two cases of bottled water in kitchen next to Traulsen reach-in cooler.” It also included “seven fresh rodent droppings found behind Hobart mixer in the prep area.”

Otherwise, there were about 50 fresh rodent droppings found in kitchen behind pizza oven (they like the pizza oven, as you’ll see); about 15 fresh droppings found in kitchen underneath wire storage shelving; two dry rodent droppings found at walk-in cooler door; four dry rodent droppings found underneath food preparation sink; and about 20 fresh rodent droppings underneath three-compartment sink.”

Out went the water. Out went cooked pasta from the previous day not kept at a proper temperature. And with all that rodent activity, how do you feel about “two containers with sugar in dry storage area not covered?”

Those pesky critters kept their attitude for the March 16 re-inspection: Observed two moist rodent droppings under pipe on floor under triple sink; one moist dropping along wall under pizza oven; two dried droppings on metal paper goods shelf behind flip top cooler near front counter area in front of Traulsen reach-in cooler under stove; approximately three moist droppings under mixer, under liquid fry shortening in warewashing area; and one moist dropping on floor under pizza oven.”

Also around the pizza oven: “Observed live rodent walking down the pipe along wall behind pizza oven.”

The inspector did note, “Most of these droppings were removed, operator instructed to clean and sanitize areas.”

Most?

The inspector came back later on March 16 and let them reopen.

▪ Fritaybon Goutalix Restaurant, 12143 NW Seventh Ave., North Miami-Dade — On March 12, they had rodents (30 dry droppings on top of the water heater, one dry one by the front counter, one dry one next to the three-compartment sink) and roaches (two live ones in the kitchen).

They also had “pots stored on soiled rack in kitchen area on top of three-compartment sink.”

The March 13 re-inspection found “seven-plus dry rodent droppings on top of the water heater by the three-compartment sin and four plus dry rodent droppings on the floor between hot water heater and the three-compartment sink.”

They reopened after the March 14 re-re-inspection.

▪ Hong Kong House Restaurant, 955 NE 125th St, North Miami — There were some rodents in the House on March 13. They like soy sauce, judging from the three dry droppings on a box of soy sauce and 10 to 15 dry droppings on soy sauce cans and pineapple juice tops.

There were 10 to 15 droppings inside cardboard boxes and over 20 on the floor underneath dry storage area shelves.

Perhaps the critters wanted to brush their teeth or freshen up: “Baking soda contaminated with dry rodent droppings.”

And for those really into breathing, “Ceiling/ceiling tiles/vents soiled with accumulated food debris, grease, dust, or mold-like substance. Throughout the restaurant.”

▪ Las Cholitas, 1831 N. Pine Island Rd., Plantation — The Feb. 28 inspection had problems beyond the furry friends. Not that they didn’t leave their mark or, rather, mark their territory with “six dried rodent droppings on top of dish machine...40 dried rodent droppings on floor, behind freezers in prep area....10 dried rodent droppings on floor behind ice cream freezer...three dried rodent droppings on water heater in kitchen.”

They also had Stop Sale orders dropped on enough food for a single person’s refrigerator, all for keeping the food at improper temperatures: butter, cooked eggs, fresh garlic in oil, white rice, soup, red beans, sweet potato, baked potatoes, baked quarter chicken, mashed potato and wonton. Of course, considering the “Inside of crock pot for rice, metal container is rusty,” I don’t know how enthusiastic I’d be about the rice at any temperature.

Las Cholitas got it back together for the March 1 re-inspection.

▪ Tommy Fats, 3499 NW 99th Way, Coral Springs — Tommy Fats suffered from being obese with living things not on the menu over several inspections, starting with March 9.

The rodent part of that inspection included “15 dried rodent droppings on floor throughout rear kitchen area along walls and around water heater, 11 dried droppings behind white reach in cooler and freezer, seven dried rodent droppings in front cookline on floor along walls.”

But other High Priority violations included “Observed employee scratch back with bare hands and then handled squeeze bottle containing condiment while in cookline” and “ Employee touching ready-to-eat food with their bare hands...operator handled bread and sub sandwich with bare hands in cookline.”

Also there was “approximately 27 dead roaches on glue trap behind white reach in cooler and freezer in rear kitchen area.”

This and other yucky violations drew only a warning. The warning went unheeded.

When an inspector returned on March 12, Tommy Fats got shut down. As for the rodents, there were “four dried droppings behind the white reach-in cooler and freezer, one dried dropping next to the Green World cooler, one dried dropping under turned off flip top cooler in cookline and five dried droppings around the water heater.”

Also, in addition to live roaches found, “roach egg sacs were observed.”

So, Tommy Fats was gone. And there was nothing they could do about it.

Well, there was something they could do about it, but they obviously didn’t before the March 13 re-inspection: “Observed nine dried droppings along wall near the triple sink and two dried droppings behind kitchen door along wall.”

And in addition to the live roaches and the dead roaches, there were more roaches-to-be “one dried roach egg sac on floor at front counter area, at least five roach egg sacs under left triple sink drain board, and one dried roach egg sac under handwash sink in rear preparation area.”

Whatever turf war there was between the rodents and the roaches, the roaches won on durability. Though the rodents were gone, Tommy Fats completed the bad inspection hat trick by failing the March 14 inspection on roaches. Fats finally passed March 15.

Some places got “Administrative Complaint Recommended,” which means you were a dust speck from being shut down and there will be a re-inspection.

▪ Cake’s Thai Kitchen, 7919 Biscayne Blvd., Miami — Cake by the canal? Maybe that’s why the inspector saw three dry droppings at the front counter and 10 to 15 dry droppings inside the front counter cabinet.

Violations that can lead to food-borne illnesses being transported: no hot water at the employee handwash sink and serving spoons, scoops and tongs in tepid standing water.

No droppings spotted the floor on the March 15 on the re-inspection.

▪ Mi Toro Grill of Miami, 650 NE 79th St., Miami — On March 5, the inspector saw over 25 dry droppings on a shelf above the three-compartment sink, over 20 dry droppings above the reach-in cooler on a tinfoil-wrapped shelf, over 20 dry droppings on the stainless steel display unit in front of the coffee machine.

If you think that makes the coffee dicey, the restaurant manager wasn’t sure if the pasta and rice were made the previous day or two days before.

On the March 6 comeback, they were clean on the rodent count.

Some places get just a “Warning Issued” after the inspector sees evidence of furry friends.

▪ Domenico’s Italian Deli, 13975 NW 67th Ave., Miami Lakes — Somehow, this place stayed open despite 42 violations. Maybe because the only High Priority no-no was “approximately three dry not crumbly rodent droppings on the floor by grab-n-go beverage cooler.”

▪ Dunkin Donuts, 7823 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation — Can the home office in Canton, Mass. send these people a case of D-Con? Or a coupon for an exterminator? Or a cat? This Dunkin made the last Rodent Report, getting shut down after rodent droppings were spotted on three consecutive inspections. They finally cleaned up properly on Feb. 14, only to have their Feb. 28 inspection marred by “two dry rodent droppings on metal wire racks in dry storage area.”

▪ Kababi Cafe by Kuluck, 3828 N. University Dr., Sunrise — One dried rodent dropping in a soap dispenser next to the bakery’s handwashing sink.

▪ Jimmy’s Diner, 11045 NW 7th Ave., North Miami-Dade — Two dry droppings underneath steam table next to reach in cooler by cook line.

▪ Smoothie Jungle, 924 NE 62nd St., Oakland Park — One dry rodent dropping at the back door and one dry rodent dropping near the water fountain.

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

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