A statewide look at Florida’s top restaurant violations
First line we read on the first inspection we opened for this month’s Rodent Report: “15 plus dried rodent droppings next to dead rat next to linen basket...”
Here we go. The Rodent Report is compiled from state restaurant inspections. We do not control who gets inspected or how strictly. We present it without passion or prejudice but more than a dash of humor.
Let’s start the way we usually do, with the restaurants that got closed for the day (or more) wholly or partially because of rodent issues.
▪ Bryan Cafeteria, 450 E. Fourth Ave., Hialeah — Bryan Cafeteria must have been busier than Saturday at a Calcutta market on July 10.
We don’t know the customer count. But going by the inspection, the rodents and roaches were waging a turf war while the inspector handed out stop-sale orders. The inspector spotted 41 violations, 11 of which were high-priority violations.
As for the rodents, the inspector saw “approximately 30 plus dry not crumbling droppings under pots and pans storage area, approximately 20 plus dry not crumbling droppings under cook line, approximately 10 dry not crumbling droppings on clean sheet pan storage racks, approximately three dry not crumbling droppings on prep table next to cutting board and oil bottles.”
When the rodent poop is on the prep table, you’re probably headed for an early closing. But the roaches didn’t give up the prep table entirely and claimed significant ground, including the ice machine.
The inspector saw a roach scurrying in the ice machine and four of them going the same among clean pots and pans. A live roach was on the prep table. Another one was in the kitchen area by service window and reach-in cooler. There were more than 10 live ones in a kitchen reach-in cooler and eight more live ones among clean dish racks stored in three-compartment sink storage area. On the wall near the three-compartment sink, four live ones climbed the wall.
There’s more, but you get the idea.
Meanwhile, flies zipped around the front counter and the kitchen, five in each place. And, the inspector was making it rain stop-sale orders for improper storage temperature: the restaurant had to toss out steak, ham, cheese, flan, cut tomatoes and garlic with oil.
With all this critter activity, you want to put a good wash on the dishes. Well, the dishmachine wasn’t sanitizing. So, neither the customers’ dishes used for eating nor utensils used for cooking were sanitized. And that makes this all the more icky, “In-use knife/knives stored in cracks between pieces of equipment. Observed knives stored in crevices, in meat cutting room.”
As for handwashing, there was a pitcher in the handwash sink, but no soap for washing or towels or blower for drying.
Bryan failed the July 11 callback inspection partially because, the inspector saw way too much rodent poop, as in “approximately five fresh droppings in pots and pans storage area .. .approximately five fresh droppings behind fryers on cook line .. .approximately two fresh droppings on lid of flour container...approximately two fresh droppings on prep tables by cook line ... approximately six fresh droppings in meat cutting room under prep tables.”
Bryan re-opened after the July 13 callback inspection.
▪ Cheddars Casual Café, 7951 W. commercial Blvd., Tamarac — The week started badly at Cheddars on Monday, July 23, especially after the inspector spotted “approximately 11 dried rodent droppings on can storage rack in rear of kitchen.”
Sometimes, it’s not volume of violations — the inspector found only nine, six High Priority — but location, location, location. Such as…
“Fly zapper stored above box of unwashed produce along wall in kitchen end of cookline and another bug zapper above preparation table in kitchen where cake is being sliced…”
And… “Strong objectionable odor in establishment inside of walk in cooler by mop sink.”
Despite the few violations, Cheddars didn’t pass the callback inspection the next day. The rodent part of the July 24 second time around was “approximately 17 dried rodent droppings on shelves next to and under plates and paper goods in rear storage area near dumpster.”
Cheddars got back to business after the second callback inspection July 25.
▪ La Gran Parada Dominicana, 7503 NW 32nd Ave., Miami — You can’t say the rodents in this place are “stay in your lane on the floor” types, as shown during the July 13 inspection.
These varmints left their mark on the top and bottom portions of a prep counter near a kitchen area exit door, “where kitchen equipment and kitchen utensils are kept” (20 to 30 hard and dried droppings); on wooden shelves above a back prep counter where seasonings were kept (10 dry pieces); on plates and pans under the prep counter in front of the kitchen stove (about 20 dry ones); on top of a cutting board and near kitchen equipment next to the stove (about 10 dry ones); and on shelves near cup lids and “other single service items” (about 30 dry pieces).
You don’t see this one often, “Mosquitoes breeding in standing water.” The live roaches above a prep counter and above a three-compartment sink? That’s pretty common in restaurants that get shut down.
As for disturbing violations not involving living things with legs or wings, “No paper towels or mechanical hand drying device provided at handwash sink. No paper towel observed inside women’s restroom used by food employees.”
Also, La Gran used chlorine sanitizer that isn’t approved for food contact surfaces to wash dishes.
Against the above, that Stop Sale dropped on some rice doesn’t seem that bad, does it?
La Gran got reopened after a July 17 callback inspection.
▪ Ric Kin Bing Cuban Café, 640 E. Sample Rd., Pompano Beach— Diversity (of poop) marked Friday’s inspection at the Bing.
You had your basic rodent poop with “approximately four fresh and eight dry rodent droppings next to cooler in side prep area; six fresh and five dry rodent droppings behind cookline table; 10 fresh and 20 dry rodent droppings in the restroom on the A/C vents; and one dry rodent dropping on floor under slicer prep table.”
Then, reptile relieving: “observed five reptile droppings (white tips) in dry storage room.”
Also, somebody needs a dumpster because the garbage bags piled up outside on the ground and the inspector saw 100 flies buzzing about (also, noted, “Strong odors coming from this area.”)
Did some food get tossed for being kept at a bacteria-growing temperature? Of course. Whole shelled eggs, cooked pork, raw beef and raw chicken got hit with Stop Sales.
Handwash sink not accessible for employee use due to items stored in the sink. Lids stored in handwash sink at cookline.” Just as well because the water couldn’t get up to a qualifying temperature of 100 at the handwashing sink, the three-compartment sink, mop sink, at the front counter or cookline.
And, finally, a most malodorous air. “Objectionable odor in establishment. Strong odor coming from restroom, cookline and side prep area.”
▪ Tarks of Dania, 1317 S. Federal Hwy., Dania Beach — And on July 9, the inspector saw “15 plus dried rodent droppings next to dead rat next to linen basket, next to office. .one dried rodent dropping on shelf under electric panel .. .one dried rodent dropping under triple sink .. .10 dried rodent droppings behind ice machine in kitchen.”
The inspector at the seafood restaurant did note that the first three got cleaned up immediately and the dead rat was in a trap. There was another dead rat under some soda boxes in the back room. His cause of death wasn’t reported.
Maybe he had some of the shrimp, conch fritter mix or conch salad, each of which got a Stop Sale for being kept at a temperature that can make it dangerous when digested.
On the roach tip, a live one crawled through the kitchen’s paper towel holder and another one disappeared down the handwashing sink drain. Overhead, the inspector saw “75 to 100 dead small flying insects in light fixture above ice machine in kitchen.”
Have a Coke and a smile? “Soda gun soiled. Front counter.” The inspector also saw, “dumpster overflowing garbage.”
Tarks reopened July 10.
Then, there’s places that get “administrative complaint recommended.” That means you’re within a misplaced neutron of being shut down and the inspector will be back.
▪ La Antioquena Bakery & Restaurant, 17041 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines — A dry piece of rodent poop on a bucket near the dishwashing area isn’t much, by the standards of Rodent Report restaurants.
But, other restaurants didn’t get caught lying to customers, as La Antioquena did.
“Observed red snapper advertised on menu. No red snapper observed in establishment only lane snapper observed in reach in freezer. Operator verified that lane snapper is served when red snapper is ordered.”
And the inspector dropped a Stop Sale on the salsa after it hadn’t cooled properly.
Some places got off with a warning.
▪ El Tayta Peruvian Bistro, 17040 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach — There were five crumbly pieces of poop on top of the dishwasher.
But we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out a Stop Sale put on cooked potatoes, sweet potatoes, octopus, shrimp and cut tomatoes and “accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine.”
▪ Le Lambi Restaurant of Miami, 13720 SW 88th St, South Miami-Dade — Four “dry and crumbly” rodent droppings on the floor in the dry storage room.
▪ Los Marchena De Camaguey, 27455 S. Dixie Hwy., Homestead — What the rodent poop during Friday’s inspection lacked in freshness , it made up for in volume: “Observed approximately 40 plus dry, crumbling droppings on corner in front area near steam table. Observed approximately 10 dry, crumbling droppings next to prep table in front area. Observed approximately 10 dry, crumbling droppings behind front in reach-in cooler.”
By the way, both chicken and beef got tossed after getting hit with a Stop Sale for being “potentially hazardous” because of “temperature abuse.”