How 30 gallons of salsa and 25 roaches on a kitchen floor helped shut down restaurants

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.

The seven food-serving establishments on this week’s “Sick and Shut Down List” seemed to have two basic problems: roaches and keeping food at a good temperature for food safety.

A simple, sad fact: You often pay restaurants to serve you leftovers.

Just as you might cook veggies or pasta dishes, eat some for dinner and put the rest away for future lunches and noshing, restaurants cook basic foods in mass quantities and store them for future use. And just as your food can turn into a foodborne illness if you don’t get your stuff out of the pot and into the refrigerator within an hour, restaurants’ mass prepared foods can turn dangerous if they don’t get it properly cooled.

What follows comes from inspections by Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. We don’t control who gets inspected or how strictly. We report without passion or prejudice, but with a bowl of humor.

In alphabetical order:

Bowlero Davie, 8200 W State Rd. 84, Davie — The bowling alley rolled up this week’s Amityville Award for fly infestation.

Ten flies landing on clean lids and containers in an equipment storage rack. Another 10 flying around the bar area and four dead in the bar area cooler (did they land on the ice and freeze to death?).

The inspector saw “25 live flying insects in soda box storage area., landing on boxes. Two live flying insects flying around ice machine area. Ten live flying insects in dry storage in front of the three-compartment sink landing on top of cans and food storage containers. Ten live flying insects by the three-compartment sink flying around and landing on walls.”

Handwash sink not accessible for employee use due to items stored in the sink. Rubber Mats stored inside handwash sink at bar.

“No paper towels or mechanical hand drying device provided at handwash sink at bar.”

Le Bon Gout, 1220 S. Dixie Hwy., Lake Worth — General rule: If the inspector has to see you kill something, inspection fail.

Especially if the hunt down goes something like, “Observed roach spray being used to kill roach, reviewed with manager spray cannot be used near food.”

Of the 18 live roaches, 10 were on the wall next to case of plantains and two were on a clean pot. A trap had 30 dead roaches, so maybe the roach motel could have been tossed. As for roach excrement, “20 fresh droppings under shelve in dry storage ... 10 fresh droppings on food containers in dry storage area.”

How did 50 flies get in so they could buzz about? “Observed door to kitchen open letting the flies into the establishment.”

No soap at the handwash sink.

The inspector dropped Stop Sales like rhymes at Rolling Loud after Le Bon failed to get cooked-and-kept items properly cooled overnight. Each item was put in the reach-in cooler in a container deeper than four inches. So, out went 6 pounds of rice with beans, a gallon of soup, 6 1/2 gallons of vegetables with meat, 7 pounds of white rice, cooked pork, and a quart of chicken broth.

Oceano Bistro & Lounge, 1350 N. Ocean Blvd., Pompano Beach — A couple of problems the inspector saw on May 6: Standing water on the main bar floor. Mold-like build-up on the inside of a walk-in door.

But, mainly, roaches.

“Observed approximately eight live roaches on or near electrical box on wall under dish machine area and two live roaches on wall behind ice machine. ... Observed approximately eight dead roaches on top of chemical bucket at dish area. Observed approximately 20 dead roaches in glue trap on top of electrical box on wall next to dish machine.”

Oceano was back open after a quickie re-inspection later that day.

Oriental Express Chinese Food, 3962 Curtiss Parkway, Miami Springs — Of the 29 live roaches the inspector spotted, 25 were crawling on the kitchen floor.

Frankly, “hood soiled with accumulated grease, dust or food debris” seems pretty pedestrian, but “interior of microwave soiled with encrusted food debris” says take two minutes at the end of the night for wiping.

This place passed Thursday’s re-inspection.

Taco Fresh, 2517 NW 21st Ter., Miami — No running water on the food truck means no running water at a handwashing sink or three-compartment sink. That means neither the hands making the food nor the cookware in which those dirty hands place the food is being properly washed.

That’s before we get to the handwashing sink lacking soap.

You’d think the lack of hot water caused the Intermediate violation of “cutting board(s) stained/soiled” until you see the Basic violation of “Cutting board has cut marks and is no longer cleanable.”

“Hood ventilation system inadequate as evidenced by grease accumulation on walls/ceiling.”

Taco Fresh passed the May 6 re-inspection.

Temple Orange, 100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan — Manalapan is in Palm Beach County and, as of the last census, had 406 residents. Or, one person per word of The Temple’s May 3 inspection.

The big problem that day seemed to be cooling the cooked food so as not to make a bacteria bouillabaisse. Boiled eggs, hummus, babaganoush and chick peas held for more than four hours and still way too warm got dumped. Same with meat sauce cooked the ngith before, but stored in a covered container more than four inches deep. What needed to be at 41 degrees or below got down to only 66 degrees. That’s not getting down enough.

No soap at the handwashing sinks on the cook line. No way to dry hands other than flapping arms on the handwashing sink at the breakfast line.

Even with all of this, Temple Orange didn’t actually get shut down until a May 6 inspection when the inspector saw one roach on the kitchen floor and 10 hanging out under the kitchen’s dishwashing machine.

The Temple was back open May 7.

The Whole Enchilada Fresh Mexican Grill, Westfield Broward Mall, 8000 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation — A Mexican place failed inspection the Friday of Cinco de Mayo weekend. That’s a whole enchilada all right, but we won’t talk about the filling.

Problems here started not with the “black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine” or the handwashing sinks, one blocked by a garbage can and the other blocked by beer kegs (so, you know they’re probably not in heavy usage). But with appliance problems.

“At this time the walk-in cooler, the reach-in cooler at the cookline, and the cold holding drawers at the cookline cannot maintain foods at 41 degrees or below. Only one three-door prep cooler works in the establishment that can maintain foods at 41 degrees or below but the cooler is not enough to accommodate all food requiring temperature control.”

That means the Stop Sales piled up like Kodak Black’s legal fees: 10 pounds of rice 47-48, 30 pounds of pork, 25 pounds of pinto beans, 5 pounds of tomatoes, 30 gallons of salsas (ooh, that hurt), 30 pounds of raw beef, 20 pounds of black beans, 30 pounds of cooked ground beef, 8 pounds of raw shrimp 48F, 2 pounds of queso, 25 pounds of tofu, 10 pounds of pico, 4.25 gallons of half and half creamers), 18 pounds of cheese blocks, 108 pounds of sour cream and 10 pounds of mozzarella cheese just form the walk-in coooler.

Also tossed were more shrimp, fish, beef, grilled vegetables, cheese, cut cabbage, lettuce and sour cream.

The inspector did Whole Enchilada a solid and came back later May 3 for the re-inspection instead of May 4 or May 6. Whole Enchilada passed and got back open for the weekend.

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.