Flies and mold shut down the IHOP, and rats and rodents leave a trail at other places

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.

People have things to do as we prep for Memorial Day Weekend, so let’s get right to the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach restaurants that made our “Sick and Shut Down List” by failing inspections.

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

In alphabetical order:

Churrasco Grill, 510 Lantana Rd., Lantana — Only one real problem marred this food truck’s inspection and caused 11 of the 16 violations.

“Operator stated that water pump is broken and has a new one at home to be installed later today.”

That means not enough hot water or water pressure at the handwashing sink. That means no hot or cold running water at the three-compartment sink. So, neither the cookware nor the hands of the cooks were properly washed.

“Employee began working with food, handling clean equipment or utensils, or touching unwrapped single-service items without first washing hands. Due to the fact there is no running water.”

And this wasn’t getting it done, either. “Mobile food dispensing vehicle obtaining water from an unapproved source. Water is stored in old salad dressing containers.”

They got the pump installed and were back in business on Blue Star on Tuesday.

Coffee Break, 1900 W. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale — “Coffee break” might also describe the activity of the “30 live roaches found in front counter cabinet next to coffee machine.”

Also, “food stored in a location that is exposed to splash/dust … espresso machine and cinnamon powder stored next to handwash sink on front counter that is exposed to contamination.”

Coffee Break got back to work on Wednesday.

Giovanni’s Coal-Fired Pizza, 165 NW 136th Ave., Sunrise — Among the 71 flies the inspector counted, 50 were “in the wait station next to the cookline. Flying around soda boxes and soup station, landing on pizza boxes” and another 15 were “near water heater and mop sink next to Hobart mixer and prep table.”

Giovanni’s also got cited for “Insect control device installed over food preparation area,” an apparently fruitless violation.

“Encrusted material on can opener blade.”

A whole Sunday family dinner worth of food that needed to be kept at 41 degrees or under to keep from being beds of bacteria were in coolers that measured either 50 degrees or 48 degrees:

Cut lettuce, chicken, ground beef, cooked zucchini, tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, ham, meatball, cheese, cream cheese, shredded cheese, blue cheese, ricotta, feta, garlic butter, mozzarella and tomato sauce.

The inspector allowed Giovanni’s to move the food to the walk-in freezer or get put in an ice bath for quick chilling .

IHOP, 12875 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami — The inspector looked up and saw “20 plus live flies on ceiling over food preparation area around the kitchen,” looked down and saw “20 live flies by soda rack in dry storage.”

Look this way and there was “in-use knife/knives stored in cracks between pieces of equipment.” and look in there and “accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine.”

Oh, and we guess the staff had to flap their arms to dry their hands after handwashing — the paper towel dispenser at the server station’s handwashing sink wasn’t working.

Things were rooty-tooty fresh and fruity again after Friday’s re-inspection.

Terra Fiamma, 9169 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach — Clearly Terra Fiamma (“Flame Earth”) wasn’t hot enough to burn out the vermin as this restaurant rang up the hat trick.

Flying things: “One fly in dining area landing on the plate ... two small flies flying around at server station.”

Roaches: Four live roaches and four dead roaches inside shelf at expo line at kitchen.

Rodents: “Over 50 dry rodent droppings, two fresh droppings inside shelf at expo line at kitchen … six fresh rodent droppings in a container underneath prep table and approximately 50 dry droppings in the shelf at server station by the Dishmachine ... four fresh rodent droppings and approximately 30 dry rodent droppings underneath booth at dining area.”

They tried to cool the tomato sauce overnight to 41 degrees in a container that was too deep for the task. So they wound up with 61-degree tomato sauce that got a Stop Sale from the inspector.

“Build-up of mold-like substance on nonfood-contact surface on food containers…” “Soil residue in food storage containers ... pasta containers, vegetables containers at walk in cooler.”

Thunderbird Café, 18401 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach — The bird needed to be Black Flagged.

“Observed eight-plus live roaches inside the wall under preparation table in front the cook line at the main kitchen … Ten-plus live roaches inside the wall under dishwasher machine area.”

And in the air, “five live, small flies flying over three-compartment sink and bottle beverage at the bar station.”

But, the inspector made sure to note, none of the flies or roaches were seen on food contact surfaces.

Stop Sales crashed down on marinara sauce, spaghetti sauce and raw steak that were in the walk-in cooler for more than four hours without being properly cooled. And the sauces were left uncovered.

“Accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine.”

“Grease accumulated on kitchen floor and/or under cooking equipment…heavy grease accumulation under shelves and kitchen equipment.”

“Cutting board has cut marks and is no longer cleanable. Observed in all preparation tables.”

This was on May 13. Thunderbird proceeded to fail re-inspections on Tuesday and Wednesday before getting an extension on Saturday.

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.