200 rodent poops in one place, 200 flies on the wall of another. Why the restaurants failed

Judging from the inspections of the seven Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach restaurants on this week’s “Sick and Shut Down List,” it must be spring break for the rodents of the Northeast and Midwest.

What follows comes from state inspections by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. If you have a problem with what the inspector has stated, contact the inspector. We don’t control who gets inspected or how strictly. We report without passion or prejudice but with a heapin’ helpin’ of humor.

Arby’s, 4275 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach — They may have the meats, but about 35 apparently carnivorous flies wanted to share the restaurant.

“No soap provided at handwash sink in the kitchen. Wrong soap in dispenser.” Were they using dish soap instead of hand soap?

The wall behind the three-compartment sink was “soiled with accumulated black debris.”

Thursday’s re-inspection featured a pest control person killing two flies, on a sandwich wrapper and behind a shake machine.

That happened after Friday’s re-re-inspection.

Indian Harbor, 1830 Cordova Rd., Fort Lauderdale — Tuesday’s inspection caught two live roaches on a wall over the prep station and seven live roaches crawling under a shelf “where single service items and ramikin are stored next to cookline coolers.”

The inspector cited “pesticide/insecticide labeled for household use only present in establishment” in the form of roach spray, and the restaurant got dinged for having roaches and the roach spray AND improperly storing the roach spray.

The condiments on the buffet weren’t protected. The lentils stored in the reach-in freezer weren’t covered. The can opener blade had “encrusted material.”

Indian Harbor passed Wednesday’s re-inspection.

Notredame Restaurant, 4859 N. Dixie Hwy., Pompano Beach — Something called “Notredame” (yes, the restaurant does it as one word, but the state lists the name as “Notre Dame”) hasn’t laid this level of stink in South Florida since the Hurricanes blasted Gerry Faust into oblivion 58-7 during the Miami Vice era.

“Objectionable odor in establishment at cookline and dry storage room.”

Can’t imagine why. Could be the rodents that left “200-plus dry and 10 fresh rodent droppings in dry storage room next to cookline. Dropping next to foods and single service items.”

Also waking up the echoes were “37 dry rodent droppings on shelving above chest freezer by back door and around chest freezer. Droppings next to clean pots.” And, “33 dry and 3 fresh rodent droppings on shelving above prep table at cookline. Food and clean plates observed on prep table.”

Impressive inspecting to be able to count those poop pellets and not confuse them with the flies swarming the house: “160 live flying insects in rear prep are by back door. Flies landing on walls, on sides and top of Whirlpool freezer.”

Oh, there’s more: “Six landing on box of chicken and three of them on cutting board. Fifty (that’s 50) live flying insects under the three-compartment sink.” Of the “17 live flying insects in dry storage room next to cookline,” 10 landed on a rice bag.

There was no escape as the inspector saw “30 live flying insects in dry storage area near dining room. Flies landing on wall, on wrapped napkins and to go containers, on wire shelving and on side of freezers. Five live flying insects by walk-in cooler.”

Part of the problem was the “back door (is) not self closing. Observed small flying insects entering establishment.

At least the food’s not a threat. Well, it wasn’t after the inspector whipped out a monsoon of Stop Sales for improperly cooled turkey, porridge, beef, potatoes, cooked beef, pork, lettuce, sauce with cooked vegetables, rice, cooked chicken and oxtail. They need to be kept under 41 degrees. Walk-in cooler temperature: 55 to 56 degrees.

Considering what’s running around the floor, it’s a little unsettling to see “Food stored on floor. Container with beef on floor by three- compartment sink. Box of chicken on floor by back door.”

And with all the flies, “Fish not covered at chest freezer near back door” seems problematic also.

“Standing water or very slow draining water in handwash sink at cookline.” But,if you’re looking for the sunny side of the sewer, that probably means they’re washing their hands.

Despite this inspection, Notredame’s staff rallied to pass the Wednesday re-inspection.

Pizza & Brew, 53 NE 44th St., Oakland Park — The restaurant name speaks of the ultimate post work chill. The rodents agree.

“Ten fresh rodent droppings found in food preparation area behind General Electric freezer...15 fresh rodent droppings found underneath the three-compartment sink in the dishwashing area. Three fresh rodent droppings found underneath food storage rack at storage area and three dry rodent droppings found next to Hobart mixer in prep area.”

Next to the mixer?

The lasagna made on Feb. 28 and in the reach-in cooler and freezer had no date on it. Considering the USDA’s guidelines for cooked meat dishes is three to four days in the refrigerator, the lasagna in the cooler needed to be basura, baby.

Utensils and wiping cloth bucket were in the prep area handwash sink, which was just as well -- there were no way to dry hands and no hot water in the entire joint.

Accumulation of encrusted food debris/on around mixer head.

The restaurant was back open on Thursday.

Plomo Tequila & Taco Bar, 230 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables — Plomo generally pulls high reviews, rating over four stars and up on Yelp, Google and OpenTable. It got high numbers from the inspector, too, as in 28 total violations, seven of which were High Priority and seven of which were Intermediate.

Several violations are spinoffs from “No hot or cold water in the entire establishment.” Mop sink, handwash sink, employee handwashing before prepping chicken all need, you know, water.

Then again, the mop sink was being used to store rugs.

Stop Sales fell on cooked rice and cooked beans not properly cooled from the previous day. Somehow, the tomatoes, cheese and cole slaw also not cooled enough escaped this fate.

But, let’s talk about problems such as “Accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine.” “Interior of reach-in cooler soiled with accumulation of food residue.” “Walk-in cooler gaskets soiled with slimy/mold-like build-up.” Floor area(s) covered with standing water at bar.” “Interior of hand sink in server station soiled.”

A little water would’ve helped that situation. On the Wednesday re-inspection, many problems remained and the inspector dropped the rare re-inspection Stop Sale on cooked ribs, cooked green tomatoes, cooked sauces, coleslaw, shredded cheese, raw beef, raw chicken and raw pork.

The inspector noted, “The items were stored inside the walk-in cooler from the previous day and in the danger zone for over six hours.”

Plomo finally re-opened on Thursday.

Taverna Trela, 4801 Linton Blvd., Delray Beach — You’ve got to admire the completeness of the failure Tuesday at Taverna.

“Five-plus live roaches inside bottom oven at cook line. Two live roaches on the wall under handwash sink at cookline. Three live roaches under prep table at cookline. One live roach under dish machine. One live roach inside rice cooker. One live roach inside handwash sink on cook line.”

One live roach inside the rice cooker?

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The dishwasher wasn’t sanitizing. No hot water at the employee handwash sink “because Water draining onto floor surface, from drain pipe at hand wash sink on cook line.”

Now, let’s talk about the food. “Gyro meat initially cooked longer than 60 minutes was cooled prior to being fully cooked. Left over spit at 44 degrees from yesterday back on cooker, about 3 inches thick.”

That’s some dangerous gyro meat. The Stop Sale fell on that, as well as lemon chicken soup they couldn’t keep within 40 degrees of proper warmth. The raw chicken skewers marinated over night in a walk-in cooler that failed at its one job. All got tossed.

“In-use knife/knives stored in cracks between pieces of equipment in prep area.” The book says this is a Basic violation. But think about the space between your stove and counter and the tiny world of crumbs, grime and grease in there. And these knives are comign out of there to be used on the food being cooked and served. Seems like it needs a promotion to at least Intermediate, if not High Priority?

When the inspector came back Wednesday there were “five live roaches under oven at cook line. Three live roaches under handwash sink at cook line.”

Given two days to get their spit together, Taverna passed Friday’s re-inspection.

Villagio Restaurant, 1760 Sawgrass Mills Cir., Sunrise — Just call the March 4 inspection “The Villagio Horror.”

Six flies on pizza dough, prepped and sitting on the counter; 50 flies flitting around the pizza station; 200 flies on the dining room wall; eight flies landing on clean folded napkins; six landing on oranges, lemons and cherries on the bar counter; 10 flies on the cookline; four landing on the cookline prep counter.

Two flies landed on the inspector’s hat.

And the Stop Sales dropped like flies. Creme dessert, cheese cake and milk cups were in a case, but a case that sits at 48 degrees. All need to be below 41 degrees for any semblance of food safety.

“Gaskets on cookline and in dessert area heavily soiled with mold/like build up.”

Want a Coke? Well, the “soda gun (is) soiled” and there’s an “accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine,” but you do you.

When the inspector came back on Tuesday, there were “eight flies on wall at dining room, 15 flies landed on cloth covering dishware, 12 flies dead on cookline” — wait, dead? Where did they land before and maybe it should be taken off the menu, huh? — “six flies flying in bar area. Five flies flying in pizza station.”

The inspector came back a second time on Tuesday. Villagio was open again.

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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.