Restaurant News & Reviews

She refused to wash her hands before making the pizza ... and other restaurant failures

A statewide look at Florida’s top restaurant violations for 2017-18

Restaurant inspections ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with state sanitation and food safety procedures. Here are the top ten violations inspectors found between 2017-18 in Florida restaurant kitchens.
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Restaurant inspections ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with state sanitation and food safety procedures. Here are the top ten violations inspectors found between 2017-18 in Florida restaurant kitchens.

After a few weeks when there weren’t enough South Florida restaurants on the Sick and Shut Down List to make a decent beer hockey league, 10 places failed their state inspections last week.

And perhaps the violation that leaves us most incredulous comes from one of the two chains on this week’s list.

What follows comes from Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspections. We do not control who gets inspected or how strictly. We report without passion or prejudice, but with bowl of saucy humor.

As always, we go in alphabetical order:

Achsah’s Jamaican Delight, 5517 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Lauderhill — How can you argue with ambience that includes “tracking powder pesticide used inside establishment, on floor throughout kitchen and in dining room behind equipment?”

Or the “build up of mold-like substance” on the outside of the ice cream reach-in freezer in the dining room?

But apparently as prominent are the roaches.

“More than 15 on prep table in front of cookline, above cutting board, foods cooked and left open to cool. One on the floor in front of office. One inside the cupboard with sodas in kitchen area. One on the storage rack under the three-compartment sink. One on the floor under the storage bin in front of the cookline. One on the shelf with uncooked rice, plantains. One on the floor in front of Victory reach-in cooler. One on wall by the three-compartment sink. One on the shelf above the handwash sink in the kitchen.”

And speak of the dead...

“More than 20 on the floor under storage rack with pots and pans next to stove by the cookline. More than 10 on the floor behind the reach-in freezer and cooler in the kitchen. More than 10 on the floor under the handwash sink in the kitchen by the cookline. Five dead on floor towards restroom. Three dead in the display case by the front counter with snacks (Cheetos/ Doritos/ Miss Vickie’s products).

“Two on the floor in front of the office. Two on a shelf inside a cupboard with cleaning agents. Two on the floor behind a shelf under the three-compartment sink. One dead on green tape next to Achsah’s Juices reach-in cooler in the dining room. One dead in an outlet socket by the handwash sink in the kitchen. One dead on the wall by the handwash sink in kitchen. One on the wall by the frontline in customers’ view by the steam table.”

Roaches caused Achsah’s reinspection failure Tuesday. Achsah’s was back dishing it out Wednesday.

Big Louie’s Pizzeria, 10041 Sunset Strip, Sunrise — Big Louie’s needs a little fly swatter: “Approximately 15 flies on wall in prep area...20 flying flies in prep area, five landing on prep table, two landing on plastic wrap on table...12 flying flies under counter close to prep table.”

There was no way to dry hands and the handwash sink. And that Division of Hotels and Restaurant license? Expired.

“Encrusted material on can opener blade” and “soiled reach-in cooler gaskets at pizza station next to oven.”

This was from one of the two inspections from Friday. The other inspection also included “Accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine. Can opener soiled. Mixer head soiled.”

Big Louie’s met inspection standards enough Saturday to get back open, but still needs a followup inspection.

Commercial Kitchen 305 and Tasebudz, 860 NE 79th St. B, Miami — Commercial’s website calls it “South Florida’s premier commercial kitchen and incubator for food processing, cooking, baking and more.”

Last week, it was a premier incubator for food safety restaurant violations with 31 on Tuesday’s inspection.

Such as flies (over 20 on the walls and in the kitchen) and roaches (more than 20 live ones “crawling throughout the floor and the mixer” and 15 dead ones in the same area).

The slicer blade guard was “soiled with old food debris.” Can’t wash it in the dishwashing machine because it wasn’t sanitizing. Also hampering important washing was that there was no soap at one handwashing sink and a container stored inside another. The inspection didn’t say which one lacked any way to dry wet hands.

The walk-in cooler floor wasn’t dry, either, what with the standing water. But there was ice buildup there and in a reach-in freezer.

Commercial failed Wednesday’s callback inspection with a still broken three-compartment sink and dishwasher. And two roaches running in a food prep area wall.

They passed a second callback inspection Wednesday and another inspection Thursday.

El Tikal Billar of Lake Worth, 1014 Lake Ave., Lake Worth — No hot water at the employee handwash sinks on Friday. No hot water at the three-compartment sink. No hot water “throughout establishment.”

But there were rodents because the inspector found “approximately 15 dry droppings on top of water heater, 20 in wall of storage closet, 20 behind the cooler at bar, three behind the jukebox and two behind the ATM.”

And the camera slowly pans to the restroom doors to see flies, “approximately 20 hovering near restrooms.”

Maybe they were trying to decide if they wanted to land on the food or not. The inspector shot Stop Sales at four whole fish because the El Tikal had no papers saying where they were from; and improperly cooled pork and cheese from the reach-in cooler. It wasn’t clear if that’s the same cheese that was opened for more than a day without any date markings so who knows how long it’s been in there?

El Tikal passed Saturday’s re-inspection.

Four Seasons at Parkland, 9456 Vallen Court, Parkland — Come on, now. You can’t mess up the oatmeal at the restaurant serving a 55-and-over community.

The inspector had to drop a Stop Sale on four quarts of oatmeal that weren’t properly warmed. That wasn’t the only thing that wasn’t warm enough.

“Only one hot water sink in establishment” and it wasn’t a kitchen sink — it was a restroom sink. Speaking of restrooms, the men’s restroom was not “enclosed with tight-fitting, self-closing doors,” not what you want in a place where prostates are growing or gone.

The dishwasher wasn’t sanitizing. Oh, and there were no dates on the ready-to-eat food.

This was Friday. Four Seasons got it together on Saturday to get reopened.

Fritanga Managuita, 11323 SW 211 St., South Miami-Dade — Let’s start wtih “approximately 20 plus live roaches around plastic crates used to hold containers of rice, flour and beans...”

We’re sure the roaches remained outside the food. Definitely. But we won’t be ordering arroz y frijoles there anytime soon.

“Also observed three live roaches on the wall behind fryer located in the cookline area....approximately 10 plus live roaches on the base of the garbage container located in the cookline.”

And the inspector made it rain Stop Sales on the food in the reach-in cooler that’s only cool compared to Dad Dancing: beef soup; cooked pork; cooked beef; beans; pork ribs; cooked chicken; cheese; and chicken tacos. The cooked beef and beans weren’t covered anyway, so who knows what spit and sneeze got into it.

None of the cheeses stored at the front counter had any date on them.

The vegetable chopper and inside of the microwave were called “soiled.”

This was Wednesday’s mess. Fritanga passed Thursday’s callback inspection.

Half Moon Empanadas, 860 NE 79th St., Miami — Roaches running rampant made Tuesday the dark side of Half Moon.

The inspector saw (deep breath) three live roaches in a hole in a kitchen wall, six crawling on the kitchen floor, more than 13 live roaches in the kitchen by the ware wash area, more than 12 running inside the wheels of the ware washing area’s reach-in freezer, one crawling on a cart with two boxes of empanadas in a storage area where there were five live ones on the floor; and more than five roaches crawling on the racks with canned corn, canned black beans, Dixie sugar bags, coffee bags, open box of polyethylene gloves, souffle cups, souffle lids.

Some dead roaches lay in and around a freezer and one was on a wall over a prep table. Hope he doesn’t drop.

“Observed on a rack in near office 50+ roach droppings.”

How about opening late one day and having a little wall washing party? “Wall soiled with accumulated black debris in dishwashing area” and “Wall soiled with accumulated grease, food debris, and/or dust. Observed throughout the entire establishment.”

Or, how about staying closed one entire day and bringing in a hazmat team? “Ceiling/ceiling tiles/vents soiled with accumulated food debris, grease, dust, or mold-like substance. Observed throughout the entire establishment....Floor soiled/has accumulation of debris throughout kitchen.”

The inspector found Half Moon only half-stepped its response to Tuesday’s failure because Half Moon remained closed after Wednesday’s re-inspection. Only three roaches but the cleanliness problem remained and a cutting board was still stained (hey, Zavala, spring the $10 for a new one.).

Half Moon got back open Thursday.

Little Caesars Pizza, 5201 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation — The next “BOOM” you hear in Plantation might be lightning striking a Little Caesars restaurant worker from corporate Olympus.

“Pizza maker touched face, handled telephone, then returned to place ready to eat cheese and toppings on pizza without washing hands. Advised pizza maker to washed hands prior to preparing pizza, she refused.”

Refused? That’ll make the corporate heads in Detroit as happy as seeing the list of landing spots for the more than 50 flies spotted by the inspector: “pizza dough to be placed in oven on rack, crazy breads on rack in front of pizza oven, on pizza dough by fliptop reach-in cooler, on inside of fliptop reach-in cooler, on pizza pans, on flour container, on prep table, mixer, dry food storage shelf with food, on wall, on can opener in prep area, on handwash sink, on wall and flying around in dishwashing area.”

Surely, with so many flies around, workers were extra diligent about keeping tops and doors closed.

Or not: “ ready for oven, toppings with flies landing onto foods. Fliptop reach-in cooler observed open.”

And above that open fliptop reach-in cooler was a bug zapper. We’re certain the victims of Insect Old Sparky didn’t fall into the reach-in cooler, but hovered like the flies outside El Tikal’s restroom.

Do we even need to bring up “encrusted material on can opener blade” or the filthy walls? No, we don’t.

That was Wednesday. Little Caesars failed the Thursday callback, partially because the inspector saw “One live flying insect found on window next to 2-liter sodas, approximately 10 dead flies found in food preparation area next to bags with flour and approximately 10 dead flies found on window ledge in customer waiting area.”

This pizza joint got back open Friday in time for the Friday night pizza rush.

Papa John’s Pizza, 11933 W. Sunrise Blvd., Sunrise — With only four violations and none of them involving hot water, this is one of the cleanest shutdown inspections we’ve seen.

OK, there were flies. Five in the back prep room, two landing on a cutting board, 15 hanging out on the wall. “Eight flies inside to go cups box in back prep room”

With that were two back prep room and one single service storage area fly traps with an “accumulation of dead flies.”

Otherwise, there was a wet mop not stored for proper drying and a container of pizza sauce directly on the floor. Papa John’s got closed briefly Wednesday, back open by the end of the day.

Tasebudz, 860 NE 79th St. B, Miami — You don’t often see a violation for a sanitizer solution being too strong. But the wiping cloth sanitizer had to be watered down until it was half as strong as before.

Wing Wong, 5891 S. Military Trail, Lake Worth — Wing Wong was woeful in failing inspections Thursday and Friday.

Then again, it’s hard to bounce back from nine High Priority violations, which Wing Wong got tagged with Thursday.

Let’s start with the bugs: “Two live roaches (and 13 dead ones) on non working steam table in kitchen, two live roaches under fliptop refrigerator, one live roach on front counter table , 20 live roaches on cardboard behind table at cook line.” As for the dead bugs, there were “three dead roaches on shelf across from hot holding, three dead on front counter table, four dead behind chest freezer by bathroom.”

That fliptop refrigerator was filled past capacity, which is why the cooked pork that needed to be at 41 degrees was at 65 degrees. But what got the Stop Sale was the roasted duck in the front counter display case. Not only wasn’t it kept warm enough, 79 to 105 degrees instead of 135 degrees, but it was kept out there too long after being cooked at noon.

The egg rolls made two days before didn’t have any date on them.

“No hot water at all in restaurant.” That’s a problem with handwashing and sanitizing dishes, general killing of bad bacteria.

On the comeback Friday, there were new roaches, alive and dead — “One live roach on the GE refrigerator, one live roach on the shelf above flip top refrigerator....four dead roaches in the steam table, two dead roaches on the shelf above fliptop refrigerator, four dead roaches behind the chest freezer near the bathroom, one dead in the GE refrigerator drip pan” -- and old rice (two days).

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.