Flies on donuts and roaches dropping from boxes made these restaurant chains fail

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.

This week’s “Sick and Shut Down List” of South Florida restaurants that got closed after failing inspections should look familiar. A parade of chains failing in their filth.

Dunkin Donuts. Subway. Pollo Tropical. Sbarro. Happy Wok. Even a hotel chain, Sheraton, joined the chain gang.

What follows comes from Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation restaurant inspections. We don’t control who gets inspected — although you can by filing a complaint here — or how strictly the inspector interprets guidelines. We report without passion or prejudice but with an appetizer of humor.

In alphabetical order:

Asados El Paisa Broward, 4828 N. University Dr., Lauderhill — Of the eight live roaches running around, the most bothersome was the one stretching his legs on the kitchen prep table.

No soap at the handwashing sink always should be bothersome, but in the men’s bathroom, it’s like a “Welcome Hepatitis A Convention” sign.

None of the ready-to-eat food in any of the coolers had date marks, and an employee said all were prepared before the previous day.

“Reach-in cooler gaskets soiled with slimy/mold build up.” Well, at least that wasn’t in the ice machine, where you often find slime or mold.

Then again...“Lime scale build-up inside ice machine.”

Asados passed the re-inspection the next day.

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Dunkin’ Donuts, 18801 NW Second Ave., North Miami-Dade — Yeah, it’s about time for another Dunkin’ Donuts appearance on the Sick and Shut Down List. Since June 29, 2017, Dunkin’ shows up in Miami Herald restaurant inspection stories every 2 1/2 months, on average. And the last Dunkin’ appearance we can find was April 23, so here they are again, right on time.

“Observed approximately 30-plus live small flying insects on the donuts in the front counter, in uncovered holding units.”

That not only accounted for the biggest fly clump among the 79-plus, but also caused a Stop Sale bomb to be dropped on all those donuts.

These handwashing problems speak for themselves. “Employee touched soiled garbage can and then engaged in food preparation, handled clean equipment without washing hands.” “Employee handled cash and then handled donuts with bare hand without washing hands.”

What’s in the ice bin? “Accumulation of black/green mold-like substance inside the ice bin.”

As there seems to be an obtuseness about washing hands, what are the chances anything else gets washed properly?

“Coffee station, reach-in cooler shelves soiled with food debris, food storage containers, oven, and the grill.”

“Walk-in cooler and/or walk-in freezer gaskets soiled with slimy/mold-like build-up.”

“Wall soiled with accumulated grease, food debris, and/or dust.”

“Build-up of food debris, dust or dirt on non-food contact surface. On all food trays in the back storage area.”

“Grease accumulated on kitchen floor and/or under cooking equipment.” That’s good for when you want to imitate James Brown, not when you’re a restaurant.

You just know with all that weekend traffic out there, this Dunkin’ got things together for Saturday’s re-inspection.

They did not.

Among the 41 flies, one flew into a tray of 150 croissants and baels, at least 10 were in the dining area and 25 were in the back storage area.

Reach-in cooler gaskets were still soiled. A sugar storage container lid was still cracked (Nobody could go to Target for a new sugar storage container? Or the $1 aisle at Winn-Dixie?) They didn’t even pick up two crates of half-gallon milk off the walk-in cooler floor.

Failed and still closed.

Happy Wok, 1615 State Rd. 7, Lauderhill — Last Monday, 29 violations cooked in the Happy Wok, six of them High Priority. One such citation involved 47 live roaches, 25 of which established residence behind the chest freezer and one of which scurried across the prep table with a microwave.

(Dead roaches, of which there were 33, including 20 in front of the cookline, count as a Basic violation.)

Another high priority no-no said, “employee touched cooked pork with bare hands.” Then, the Stop Sales for “temperature abuse” came down on cut cabbage and egg rolls, as well as dented or rusted cans of pineapple juice, hoisin sauce and Hunt’s tomatoes.

No soap or way to dry hands existed at the handwashing sink next to the three-compartment sink.

“In-use knife/knives stored in cracks between pieces of equipment. Knife stored between flip top cooler and prep table on cookline. Utensil used to dispense rice stored in standing water on prep table with the microwave.”

“All reach-in coolers and reach-in freezers soiled” and “all reach-in coolers and reach-in freezers gaskets soiled.”

“Chicken not covered in chest freezer. All food storage containers not covered in dry storage room.”

They had chicken thawing at room temperature, a foodborne illness trap.

The inspector returned Wednesday to find 14 live roaches, including one in a rice pot, and 10 dead roaches. None of the gaskets had been cleaned or repaired. Fail No. 2. They still didn’t get it done on Friday’s third re-inspection.

Three strikes, but they weren’t out. Given a fourth shot, the Happy Wok finally made the inspector happy. Or, maybe just wore the inspector down.

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, 6418 Lake Worth Rd., Lake Worth — Of course with 11 High Priority violations Friday, they had some bug issues.

Seven live roaches. One fly landing on a kitchen prep table. That’s almost pedestrian. That Basic violation of 11 dead roaches under the dishwasher and three-compartment sink doesn’t look good..

“Food-contact surfaces not sanitized after cleaning, before use...employee cleaning utensils in three-compartment sink, not sanitizing utensils after rinse.”

Now, that’s a problem, as is no chlorine sanitizer in the dishwashing machine.

A Stop Sale got dropped on chicken soup, which the staff tired to cool in a container too deep for proper cooling. Even after spending the night in the walk-in cooler, the soup was 165 degrees. Great for killing E. coli in beef, but a bacteria bath when you’re talking stored cooked soup.

The salsa more than 30 degrees above safe range got tossed also.

Flower buckets in the bar handwashing sink.

Pollo Tropical, 7785 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach — No inspection winds up well if the inspector uses the phase “too many to count.”

Here, it got used twice.

“Several ants crawling on the wall beside drink machine in the rear prep area, there are also several in the dry storage on wall on boxes (too many to count).”

“There were numerous small flying insects on bag of onions next to mop sink (too many to count).”

The inspector could count the roaches, living (nine) and dead (one).

The inspector made it rain Stop Sales like dollars at King of Diamonds. “Mold-like growth” on fresh garlic. Three dented cans (“severely dented at the seam”) of Conchita Guava Marmalade. Eight containers of black beans. A “big container” of salsa.

Does anybody clean their ice machine? “Accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine in rear prep area.”

A same day re-inspection got this Pollo back open for the

Sbarro, 1741 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach — What got the pizza joint shut down wasn’t the five roaches running under the front counter, although that didn’t help. There was too much mechanical failure.

Attempting to use ice in a cooler to substitute for a nonworking pizza flip top cooler failed because “ice was not deep enough to achieve task,” as evidenced by pizza sauce and shredded cheese close to room temperature. Whatever was supposed to be cooling things at the front counter worked about as well as Miami-Dade mass transit. Stop Sales got dropped on cut tomato salad (67 degrees), cut greens (72 degrees) and feta cheese (74 degrees).

In addition to the three-compartment sink’s sanitizer being out — apparently, nobody noticed until the inspector pointed it out — the “sink leans when in use.” The floor around it was “covered with standing water.”

A kitchen handwsahing sink was blocked by a “large food container stored on sink,” so you know that sink didn’t get much activity. The front line handwashing sink didn’t have any way to dry hands.

Sbarro passed Saturday’s re-inspection.

Sheraton Suites Plantation, 311 N. University Dr., Plantation — You’re supposed to know what you’re getting with a chain restaurant, and doubly so with a restaurant in a major hotel chain. What this hotel restaurant got was closed after 13 violations (not that bad) with six High Priority violations (that’s a bunch).

Six is also how many live roaches were seen hanging out under the dishwashing machine. Two dead ones lay under a prep table. Wonder what killed them.

The inspector also spotted two live flies in the prep area. The report was unclear on whether they were the same flies the inspector saw landing on the wall.

Handwashing sink fundamentals seemed a problem. No soap at the handwashing sink at the dish washing area or the one on the cookline. No hand towel or way to dry hands at the food preparation area’s handwashing sink.

Another fundamental deficiency revealed itself once the inspector started taking food temperatures. Cooked sausage in a cookline pan without a lid was, not surprisingly, well under the requisite 135 degrees. Fish, beef burgers and cheese had to be taken out of the reach-in cooler, where the upper shelves apparently blocked the air flow, and put in the walk-in cooler for some quick chilling.

In that walk-in, “Observed mold like substance on the ceiling and wall...”

And wetness dampened a dry place: “Standing water on the floor in the dry storage area.”

The inspector did the Sheraton a favor and came back later on June 26 for the re-inspection, which the restaurant passed.

Subway, 7 NW 183rd St., North Miami-Dade — The roaches and flies had this Subway to themselves for the holiday weekend after Wednesday’s inspection.

“Observed approximately three live roaches crawling under the shelf at the front counter; approximately two live roaches dropping from the pepper and pickles boxes in the back prep area.”

A Stop Sale got dropped on baby spinach in the reach-in cooler after flies landed on it. And there was a “dead trapped insect in a light shield in the dining area.”

Three citations included the phrase “mold-like.”

“Accumulation of black/green mold-like substance on/around soda dispensing nozzles;” “Walk-in cooler gaskets soiled with slimy/mold-like build-up;” and “Ceiling/ceiling tiles/vents soiled with accumulated dust, or mold-like substance.”

Wonder if that bothers bugs the same way it does humans. Or, the way it bothers humans other than the ones charged with getting this place ready for Friday’s re-inspection.

Not only did all the “mold-like” gunk remain, but so did the dead bug in the light fixture. And, it seems all but five roaches partied themselves to death, seeing as how there were “20-plus dead roaches inside the establishment on the floor in the dining area, and in the kitchen area.”

Nine flies still zipped around the restaurant, which stayed closed.

Tanjore, 500 Via De Palmas, Boca Raton — That might not have been vinaigrette sauce. “Self-service salad bar/buffet lacking adequate sneezeguards or other proper protection from contamination.”

Among the 10 live roaches were three “by the utensils storage rack near kitchen entryway.” Under the three-compartment sink lay 34 roaches who didn’t make it.

What did the ice machine have? Everybody now ... An “accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior.”

“In-use knife/knives stored in cracks between pieces of equipment.” Combining lazy and gross, sort of like “interior of microwave soiled with encrusted food debris” or “microwave exterior soiled. Exterior of ice machine soiled. Shelves at cook line soiled.”

Somebody at Tanjore found sneezeguards, cloths and the ability to move their hands in wax on-wax off manner because they passed re-inspection the next day.

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.