Restaurant News & Reviews

Rodent poop in a fruit bowl, near soup, on shelves. These restaurants are in deep ...

A statewide look at Florida’s top restaurant violations

Routine, unannounced restaurant inspections ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with state sanitation and food safety procedures. These are the top ten violations found between 2015-16 in Florida restaurant kitchens.
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Routine, unannounced restaurant inspections ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with state sanitation and food safety procedures. These are the top ten violations found between 2015-16 in Florida restaurant kitchens.

This is the early June Rodent Report, featuring Miami-Dade and Broward restaurants cited for mice and/or rats in the house, but we couldn't resist including a restaurant employee killing a roach in front of the inspector.

That place didn't get closed down, despite its rodent and roach issues. Such decisions are made by the state inspectors who write the reports we use for this listing of violators. We do not control who gets inspected, how often or how harshly. We present it without passion or prejudice, but with a more than a pinch of humor.

As usual, we start with the restaurants closed for rodent activity, presented alphabetically.

Burger King, 9373 W. Atlantic Blvd., Coral Springs — A Burger King in Coral Springs on the Rodent Report sounded familiar. So many BK Lounges, so many Rodent Reports ... but we didn't find this one. Blame Irma.

Hurricane Irma preempted the Rodent Report and Roach Report during September 2017, the report that would've told of this Burger King's Aug. 17 closing almost entirely on rodent activity. Apparently, the four-legged vermin have returned for the season (maybe they're Southern Hemisphere rodents and it's winter where they're from).

On May 15, an inspector saw "approximately 16 dried rodent droppings around the pipes and interior wall of cabinet under the hot holding station across from burger grill. There were also two dried droppings in a metal pan above the soda syrup in preparation line. Employees began to remove them."

The inspector didn't wait until the next day for a re-inspection. This Burger King was reopened after the same day re-inspection.

El Ciclon Cafeteria, 14700 NW 22nd Ave., Opa-Locka — This place got red flagged on May 17 after the inspector "observed approximately 15 dry rodent droppings underneath the dry storage shelves in dry storage area and approximately four dry rodent droppings underneath a small preparation table in dry storage area."

Another problem: "Tongs hanging on the handle of the stove in the kitchen, leaving tongs exposed to employee passing by with dirty aprons and touching the floor when oven door is opened."

El Ciclon was back open after the May 18 re-inspection.

Kisses from Italy, 615 Ocean Blvd., Pompano Beach — The rodent part of their May 21 shutdown — "approximately eight or nine dry rodent droppings observed under three-compartment sink area" — actually pales in comparison to its other issues.

Such as roaches. Our Roach Report covers only Miami-Dade restaurants, so this isn't double jeopardy to include the "14 to 16 live roaches behind true glass door reach-in cooler. Live roaches are on floor beside and behind cooler under racks stored on floor. Two live observed under front counter shelf."

And maybe those roaches are pouring a little bit out for the roaches who didn't make it: "four dead roaches behind the true freezer. Two dead roaches observed on bottom shelf inside glass, two-door true reach-in cooler. Food is stored in reach in cooler. Two dead roaches under three-compartment sink. One dead roach under trash can."

Also, there's a basic cleanliness problem with an "accumulation of food debris/grease on food-contact surface," meaning the sandwich press, a slicer sharpener cover and assembly and a microwave oven.

Nothing spreads germs like poor handwashing, and the handwashing sink lacked paper towels or any hand drying device.

Kisses failed its May 23 re-inspection on more roach issues, particularly around the bugs' reach-in cooler hangout: "four dead roaches at bottom of the reach-in cooler's glass door at the drip tray. Observed three dead roaches on top of the glass door at reach-in cooler. Observed two dead roaches on a side of the reach-in cooler. Observed three live roaches near drip tray area of the reach-in cooler's glass door. Observed two live roaches on kitchen floor. Observed two live roaches behind glass door cooler. Observed one live roach under a kitchen prep table.

Kisses re-opened after the May 25 re-inspection.

Organic Bites, 7010 Biscayne Blvd., Miami — Things got a little too organic on May 9.

The inspector noted there was "displayed food not properly protected from contamination" and saw the contamination "observed in the bar area, metal bowl-shaped container with clean unwrapped apples inside used to make juices with approximately six dry rodent droppings."

That's part of the rodent story. The rest includes over 10 dry rodent droppings on the countertop near the register at the outdoor bar area. The aforementioned metal bowl also had bananas, apples and beets.

A plastic container of granola dated May 3 had two dry rodent droppings. There were two more next to plastic drinking cups. Over 40 dry ones on the shelves inside a metal cabinet with clean inverted glasses, containers of protein powder acai acute, maca, spirulina, camu camu, matcha, and wheatgrass.

Inside, there was a "window sill near the bar with 40 plus dry, rodent droppings...a wooden shelf and underneath the counter where hot soup is stored 30 plus dry rodent droppings ... .in the wash ware area, 30 plus dry droppings underneath the three-compartment sink and underneath the dish machine."

Also, lime accumulated inside the dishwasher. And the walls were "soiled with accumulated grease, food debris, and/or dust."

Organic Bites got back to serving after the May 10 re-inspection.

Pacifico Chinese Restaurant, 3824 W. 12th Ave., Hialeah — As evidenced by the 41 violations on May 14, the problems at Pacifico extended well beyond the length of a rodent's tail.

Those rodents left approximately 20 dry and hard rodent droppings found on the floor in dry storage room. But they had nothing to do with "food stored in a location that is exposed to splash/dust, Or, "Observed grout missing in some areas with food debris stuck inside."

If that's not enough "ew" for you, there was "accumulation of food debris/grease on food-contact surface: microwave interior, storage container, oven interior, walking cooler shelves."

Also, "in-use knife/knives stored in cracks between pieces of equipment. Stored between wall and knife holder."

As far as the food, Pacifico fibbed, advertising crab on the menu/menu board but serving imitation crab.

And the inspector dropped a Stop Sale on a whole bunch of food for temperature abuse: cooked rice; cooked chicken; cooked pork ribs; sauce; eggs; cooked pork; ham; cooked shrimp; cooked chicken; raw beef; raw chicken; and cooked pork.

When the inspector came back on May 15, Pacifico cut its violations to 34, but remained closed. Part of the problem was "approximately 16 fresh looking rodent droppings found on the floor in dry storage room and shelving, approximately 20 plus fresh looking rodent droppings under cookline area, and approximately 14 plus fresh looking rodent droppings under and behind prep tables."

Pacifico finally got it together May 16. It's survived two inspections since then, although an inspector did drop a Stop Sale on fish; pooled eggs; stove; cut pork; cut ham; and fried wontons.

Warsaw Coffee Company, 815 NE 13th St., Fort Lauderdale — Warsaw apparently had no pact with its rodents.

During a May 24 inspection, the inspector dropped a Stop Sale on the Ready Curry. Warsaw must have thought it was in he clear because it wasn't ready for a comeback on May 31, when the inspector saw rodents starting their own little development, "13 fresh and 110 dry rodent droppings inside crates in dry storage room near the walk-in cooler. Nesting materials and gnawed on plastic cups box with strong urine odor inside in dry storage room."

Also in the same area, "two fresh and 36 dry rodent droppings under food storage shelving units."

The rodent social scene seemed to center around the juice area, as there were "10 fresh and 27 dry rodent droppings on the scale storage box on the shelving unit near the juice prep area. Two dry rodent droppings in thermometer storage box on the shelving unit near juice prep area. Eight dry rodent droppings on ground under shelving unit near the juice station. One dry rodent dropping between U.S. refrigeration unit and handwash sink counter by he juice station. Two dry rodent droppings under the center handwash sink in the juice making station. One dry rodent dropping on top of box near shelving unit in juice prep area."

That's in addition to "One fresh and two dry rodent droppings on roller door near speed rack where onions are stored" and "four dry rodent droppings under Asher freezer near walk-in cooler. One dry rodent dropping on top of pickled ginger jar in dry storage room. Three dry rodent droppings under cabinet with drain at coffee station in front counter area. Seventeen fresh rodent droppings on ground under dish machine. Three dry rodent droppings under prep table in bakery area."

In addition to an exterminator, Warsaw apparently needed a Roto-Rooter man: "wastewater backing up through floor drains in ice machine room near bar. Observed drain clogged and slimmed accumulation on top of drain cover. Drain over filling and waste water on floor around ice machine area."

Oh, and if you were feeling good about the dishes, "Employee ( Dishwasher) handled soiled dishes or utensils and then handled clean dishes or utensils without washing hands."

Warsaw opened again after a June 1 re-inspection.

Then you have the places that got "Administrative Complaint Recommended." In effect, that means you're within a mood swing of being shut down and the inspector will be back to make sure you're addressing your problems.

Carrabbas Italian Grill, 2501 University Dr., Coral Springs — They won't like this at the home office over in Tampa, even if they consider the dead lizard in the box holding the menus an acceptable part of doing business in Florida.

Nobody likes to throw out food and 10 pounds of improperly cooled, cooked pasta had to be tossed after a Stop Sale.

Maybe that will get the rodents heading outside instead of inside where they left, "six dry rodent droppings on dry storage shelves with pasta, rice and seasonings and approximately three dry rodent droppings in corner of dry storage room. One dry rodent dropping was also observed on the shelf in dry storage room closest to the back door."

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Fisher Island Beach Club, 1 Fisher Island Dr., Miami Beach — An annual membership costs a one-time $42,800 initiation fee, then $27,734 annually. For $7,490, those who don't own on Fisher Island can test run a membership from May 1 through Oct. 31.

All that money flowing and this place can't keep it from making its second Rodent Report appearance in three months.

The inspector saw "20 dry not crumbly rodent droppings in the bottom of a warmer that is not in use. Equipment is in an area with overhead and three walls, next to a walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer outside. Equipment bags of flour, cans of food, pasta, quinoa, oils containers, soy sauce and other dry foods inside. Food appeared wholesome. Operator moved equipment outside the overhead, removed the foods, and cleaned it."

Also, "handwash sink used for purposes other than handwashing." You'd think at those prices, a handwash sink wouldn't have to multitask.

Tazza Cafe, 3111 N. University Dr., Coral Springs — The rodent part of the inspection: "observed three dried, hard rodent droppings in a cardboard box with plastic lids in a storage cabinet near the kitchen entrance."

The roach part of the inspection: "two live roaches under cooler near two-door reach-in freezer in cookline. One live roach in the front counter cabinet across from the sandwich cooler around bagged coffee. Operator killed one of the roaches near reach-in freezer."

Way to be proactive. Also, the owner threw out week-old chicken salad.

One place just got a warning issued after its inspection included rodent activity. It's a public park concession stand.

Cypress East Concession Stand, 1300 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs — "Observed approximately 35 hard rodent droppings in cabinets with microwave and around this area on floor and window sill in rear of concession stand."