Restaurants in Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale and West Miami cited by state inspectors

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Critical violations of state sanitation and safety laws recently observed by inspectors at four South Florida restaurants prompted the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation to cite the owners and briefly suspend operations. 

Bagel Tree, 9080 Kimberly Blvd., Boca Raton was briefly closed April 2 after an inspector observed raw/undercooked animal food offered and the establishment had no written consumer advisory; potentially hazardous cold food (eggs, ham, salmon, cooked onions) held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit; 6 racks of shell eggs held under no temperature control at the cook line and ambient temperature was at 81 degrees Fahrenheit; cooked potatoes were held at less than 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above; prepped onions not covered in a cooler; a bread bag was stored on a cooler floor; cutting boards at the cooking line and front line were stained/soiled; cooler, freezer shelves and a microwave were soiled with food debris; there was encrusted material on a slicer and can opener; cooler gaskets at the cook line were soiled with accumulated food residue and contaminated by live and dead roaches; takeout containers in a dry storage were not protected from contamination; hot and cold water was not provided or was shut off at an employee hand wash sink in the servers’ station; no hand washing sign was provided at hand washing sinks throughout; 33 live roaches were observed inside coolers and gaskets at cook line; 1 live roach was on a slicer; 1 live roach was on top of a food scale; 8 live roaches were in the dishwashing area; 2 live roaches were in the rear prep area near food storage shelving; 2 live roaches were in dry storage and 5 roaches were seen running across the floor in a rear prep room. Also, required employee training had expired.

The business was allowed to re-open April 3 after a callback inspection found zero violations.

Owner Ashraf Youssef said, “The restaurant is OK and running in the proper way now. Everything is great now.”

Casa Larios Restaurant, 7705 W. Flagler St., West Miami was briefly closed April 2 after an inspector observed nonexempt fish offered raw or undercooked that had not undergone proper parasite destruction; single use gloves were not changed as needed after changing tasks or when damaged or soiled – a worker cleaned a counter with gloves and proceeded to prepare a sandwich with the same gloves; the can opener blade was not kept sharp and metal shavings were seen; a slicer blade was soiled with old food debris; there was an accumulation of food debris/soil residue at a hand wash sink in an employee bathroom; cold water and paper towels were not provided at a front counter sink; more than 6 live roaches were inside a cooking oven that was missing a door, more than 20 live roaches were inside a second oven on the cook line, 1 live roach was on a shelf in kitchen storage and 1 live roach was in the boiler room. Small flying insects were in the bar area and food storage area and parts of the floor were covered with standing water.

The restaurant was allowed to re-open April 3 after a follow-up inspection found the conditions that created a severe and immediate threat to public health and safety no longer existed. 

The operator declined to comment.

Crystal Restaurant, 7895 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs was briefly closed April 3 after an inspector observed ready-to-eat meat prepared on site that was held more than 24 hours and was not properly date marked; food debris had built up on a hand wash sink in the front service area; no paper towels or mechanical hand drying device were provided at kitchen and restroom hand washing sinks and no soap was provided at the kitchen location; the dumpster lid was open; 7 dead roaches were around the edge of the deep freezer, 3 live roaches were crawling on a prep table in the front service area, 2 were crawling on the dining room floor, 5 were crawling on a wall by the three-compartment sink, 7 were crawling on the deep freezer, 5 were in cracks by the microwave, 1 was crawling on the floor near a restroom and 2 were crawling on a plate in the front service area.

Also, the exterior door had a gap at the threshold that opens to the outside and a rear door could not be properly sealed when the establishment was not in operation.   

The restaurant was allowed to reopen April 5 after an inspector found that conditions that created a severe and immediate threat to public health and safety no longer existed.

Owner Marc Felis Saint said, “When I bought the restaurant last year, it was like this before I owned it. I changed everything and made it clean every day. We tried to treat the roaches and nothing happened. Maybe the company I had wasn’t good. Sometimes you’d see the bugs, sometimes you didn’t. But I always kept it clean. After a couple of months the bugs come back and the inspection happens. They tell me to get an expert, and that’s what I do and they let me open again.”

BM Organics, 2960 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale was briefly closed April 4 after an inspector observed food received from an unapproved source (goat milk in a box of 1/2 gallon containers); the operator was unable to provide documentation for the source of salmon and a stop sale order was issued; ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous soups prepared on site, held more than 24 hours and not date-marked; other soups in individual containers were held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit; cold holding equipment was incapable of maintaining potentially hazardous food at proper temperatures; cooler containing eggs were at 44 degrees Fahrenheit ambient temperature; foods marked “not for human consumption” held in coolers and freezer in front line, in store, with foods for human consumption. Raw unpasteurized milk and raw unpasteurized yogurt was stored with mixed vegetables, kimchi, soups, sauerkraut and juices. Labeled pet burgers, marked “not for human consumption” were stored with fish, pork, etc., in reach in freezer on front line and in store.

Also, goat milk, juices and pork were stored on a freezer floor; an employee failed to wash hands before putting on gloves to work with food; an employee touched a soiled surface and then engaged in food preparation, handled clean equipment or utensils or touched unwrapped single-service items without washing hands. Kitchen food prep counters were encrusted with grease and/or soil deposits; several coolers were soiled with accumulated food residue in the kitchen and both bar areas; dish machine chlorine sanitizer was not at proper minimum strength; food contact surfaces were not sanitized after cleaning, before use and no sanitizer was available; no paper towels or mechanical hand drying devices were provided at any kitchen, cook line or dish washing area hand wash sinks and no soap was provided at the dish washing sink; dead roaches were found in a glue trap in the dry storage room near the dish washing area and in glue traps at a rear bar.

Several hundred dry and semi-dry rodent droppings were found throughout the establishment: more than 40 under rear bar equipment, 50 under a cook line stove and prep tables, 30 under storage room shelves, 30 near and on top of a water heater, 30 in an unused dining room by a rear bar along walls and under equipment, 50 throughout upstairs bar and several hundred in between ceilings and on top of ceiling tiles by a stairway, 50 along walls in a stairway and 20 in a hallway near upstairs bathrooms. There were heavy rodent rub marks along walls/ceilings, in a stairway from the dishwashing and prep areas to the second floor and a dead rodent was under an ice bin at a rear bar next to the cook line/kitchen. Exterior doors have large gaps at the threshold and on the sides of doors that open to the outside; a rear bar floor area was covered with standing water and no proof of required state approved employee training was provided for any workers.

The business was allowed to reopen April 5.  The operator could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Crime & Safety blog reports on inspections of South Florida dining spots as the state pursues its goal to review Florida’s 45,000 licensed restaurants twice each year.

If you're going out to eat, search our restaurant databases or go to www.sunsentinel.com/foodchecks before you leave home.

The state it's not the number of critical violations that will cause a restaurant to be temporarily shut down, but rather the nature of what an inspector finds that merits closing a business.

After a restaurant is shuttered, an inspector typically visits again within 24 hours and continues to visit until violations are resolved and the business can re-open. Repeat critical violations can lead to fines of $500 to $1,000 per instance in a future administrative complaint levied by the state.

If a bad dining experience makes you feel ill, it’s easy to complain to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation by calling 850-487-1395 or by filing a report online at MyFloridaLicense.com.  But beware: that’s not the place for personal vendettas. False reports can lead to misdemeanor charges.

And if you haven’t checked out a bistro’s inspection history online before making a reservation, state law requires restaurants to provide customers with a copy.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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