Food safety problems don’t take a holiday: In December, the health department placed some high-profile Lexington restaurants on probation and shut down a small Mexican place.
Malone’s and Drake’s at 3347 Tates Creek Road (the restaurants share a kitchen) were placed on probation after scoring a 67 on its health department inspection on Dec. 5. Bluegrass Hospitality Group, which owns the restaurants, said in a statement that the issues have been corrected.
“We are sorry this happened. Upon receiving that score, we immediately corrected the problems and took measures to ensure those problems don’t occur again,” Bluegrass Hospitality said in the statement. “Guest satisfaction and safety is our top priority.”
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La Casa de Mama on Versailles Road, was closed on Dec. 20 after live roaches were seen during the inspection. The restaurant must clean up boric acid that was used as pest control and there must be no live roaches present for it to reopen, according to the health department.
Logan’s Roadhouse in Hamburg scored 61, one point above automatic closure, for problems including at least three critical violations. According to the health department, a conference with Logan’s management was held to discuss the score; Logan’s passed a follow-up inspection on Dec. 17 with a score of 96.
A favorite haunt of students and other night owls, Tolly Ho, also was placed on probation with a score of 68 after an inspection found several serious problems. General manager Nathan Rader said that the restaurant scored a 99 on reinspection later in the month.
“They showed us the maintenance and upkeep issues,” Rader said. “We have already corrected every single item.”
A faulty dishwasher landed chef Ouita Michel’s Windy Corner Market on the list, and two locations of the University of Kentucky’s campus catering were cited for probation, as was the Boston Road Kroger and its sushi counter and the Meijer grocery store on West Reynolds.
Altogether, more than two dozen restaurants or food service providers were placed on probation from mid-November through mid-December.
The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department places restaurants and food service establishments on probation when they score 84 or below on an inspection or have critical violations that cannot be immediately fixed.
Some restaurants, including Azur, Jasmine Rice Thai, Carino’s on Sir Barton Way, Lee’s Family Recipe Chicken, Minton’s Cafe and The Cheesecake Factory, scored 84 or below during the period but are able to resolve critical violations so they could be immediately reinspected and receive higher scores. They were not placed on probation.
If a restaurant scores 60 or below, it is shut down until the problems can be corrected.
Critical violations are those most likely to impact public health such as potentially hazardous food, unhygienic practices such as lack of handwashing or proper gloving, improper sanitizing of dishes or utensils, lack of hot water, plumbing issues, signs of insects or rodents, toxic items improperly labeled or stored.
Inspections are a snapshot of a food service establishment on any given day but with food-borne illnesses such as hepatitis A on the rise in Kentucky, proper hand-washing and gloving and the sanitizing of dishes are extremely important, the health department says.
Inspectors say the probation list is their way of targeting the places that have the most risk of creating a serious health risk. Once a restaurant is on probation, inspections are stepped up to three times a year instead of two. Restaurants come off probation after passing two consecutive regular inspections with no critical violations.
Some restaurants have been on probation for years. As of mid-December, more than 130 places were on probation.
Here are the restaurants added to the probation list between mid-November and mid-December:
▪ Arby’s, 3261 Nicholasville Road, was placed on probation after a Dec. 3 inspection that scored 87. The inspector noted unhygienic practices including a jacket stored on food contact surface and an employee with dirty fingernails; food service employees not wearing hair restraints; dirty dining room tables, drink machine and kitchen floors; and a wall in poor repair near the drive-through window. Also, the manager “did not demonstrate knowledge of basic sanitizers, levels or concentrations.”
▪ Blvd Grill, 844 Hays Blvd., was placed on probation after a Dec. 14 inspection that scored 93 but had a couple of critical violations: The dishwasher wasn’t sanitizing properly and there was no hand soap or paper towels at the hand sink in the bar.
▪ B.D.’s Mongolian Grill, 2309 Sir Barton Way, was placed on probation after a Dec. 19 inspection that scored 77. Among other things, the inspector noted improper thawing methods used for potentially hazardous foods; produce was not washed before it was sliced; no hair or beard restraints; dirty equipment; dirty dishware was stored with clean; handwashing sinks were dirty or blocked; and floors, walls and ceiling were dirty.
▪ BP Food Mart, 781 East New Circle Road, was placed on probation Nov. 20 after scoring 87. The inspector found, among other things, inadequate sanitizer for three-compartment sink; no paper towels at the handsink; and no paper towels in restroom. On the retail side, the inspector also cited the convenience store for storing chemicals above food.
▪ Campus Catering No. 1 and No. 2, 160 Avenue of Champions, were placed on probation after a Nov. 28 inspection that scored 94 and 95. But the inspector found, among other things, employees preparing food without adequate hair restraints in one kitchen and the dishwasher wasn’t properly sanitizing dishes and a condensation line was leaking under the freezer in the other kitchen. Both kitchens are on the University of Kentucky campus in the student center but are operated by Aramark.
▪ La Casa de Mama, 1424 Versailles Road, was shut down after scoring 54 on a Dec. 20 inspection in which live roaches were seen. According to the inspection report, the health department cited the restaurant for multiple critical violations, including potentially hazardous food, including cooked chicken dishes left out all night; dishes not being sanitized; and a live roach on the floor by the register. And unhygienic practices such as employees prepping food without hair restraints and personal drinks without lids or straws on food prep surfaces. boric acid, a toxic chemical, had been spread around as pest control and must be removed.
▪ Chao Cajun, Fayette Mall Food Court, 3405 Nicholasville Road, was placed on probation Nov. 26 after scoring 85. The inspector cited them for improper gloving practices, for having personal items on food-prep surfaces, and for having no sanitizer at the three-compartment sink, among other things, including having a clogged floor drain, which might explain why the floors also were unclean.
▪ Cheng’s Restaurant, 3101 Clays Mill Road, was placed on probation after a Dec. 3 inspection that scored 88. The health department cited the restaurant for raw meat stored above noodles in reach-in freezer and dirty food prep areas, floors, cooler shelves, walls, and gaskets. Inspector saw “excessive” roach feces in cabinet under the soda dispenser; dead roaches found but no live roaches or roach feces in food or food product, the report noted.
▪ The Curb Bar, 2314 Paris Pike, was placed on probation after a Dec. 13 inspection that scored 81. The inspector found, among other things, potentially hazardous food made in an unpermitted kitchen; and a dog in the bar along with evidence of a cat, including food and water bowls, two crates and a box with a towel on the bar.
▪ Depot Deli at Bluegrass Station in Avon, 5751 Briar Hill Road, was placed on probation after a Dec. 17 inspection that scored 84. Among other things, an employee was seen blowing into a glove prior to putting on (a violation that was immediately addressed); employees preparing food were not wearing hair restraints; and ovens and utensil holder were unclean.
▪ Edley’s BBQ, 114 Summit at Fritz Farm, was placed on probation after a Dec. 3 inspection that scored 80. According to the report, an inspector found potentially hazardous food including week-old cooked meat and cooked noodles, flour used for raw chicken that was kept at room temperature for more than four hours and grits that were not kept at a safe temperature; employees preparing food without adequate beard restraint; dishes inadequately sanitized; and employee clothing and possessions stored above food.
▪ El Rancho Tapatio Taqueria, 144 Burt Road, was placed on probation after a Dec. 12 inspection that scored 84. Inspector noted, among other things, raw beef thawed at room temperature; personal items stored on plates and food prep areas; and flies breeding in stagnant water on the bar shelves where “clean” glassware is stored.
▪ Fazoli’s, 1840 Alysheba Way, was placed on probation after a Dec. 7 inspection that scored 85. According to the inspection report, there was no thermometer in the reach-in cooler; handles of dispensing utensils were stored in food; wiping cloths lacked proper sanitizer; and shelves, coolers and walls were unclean.
▪ Foliage Chinese Restaurant, 3650 Boston Road, was placed on probation after a Dec. 5 inspection that scored 88. The inspection noted that, among other things, food was stored improperly on the floor of the walk-in cooler; onions were stored under the handsink; an employee failed to wash utensils properly; wiping cloths lacked sanitizer and many surfaces were unclean.
▪ Happy China, 1301 Winchester Road, was placed on probation after a Dec. 19 inspection that scored 76. Among other things, the inspector cited the restaurant for raw meat stored improperly; no sneeze guard on the cold buffet; produce that wasn’t washed before being sliced and served; same cloths used for raw and ready-to-eat wiping; wet wiping cloths not laundered daily; dirty surfaces, including on food prep areas, cooking equipment and can opener; dirty handwashing sink, floors and walls; and there was a bed in the dry storage area, where someone was living/sleeping.
▪ Horseshoes Saloon and Steakhouse, 1987 North Broadway, was placed on probation after scoring 73 on Nov. 21 for improper hand-washing (employee “just ran them under water”) before putting on gloves; improper sanitizing practices; dirty surfaces, floors, walls and fans; dirty mop water sitting out; and no consumer advisory on the menu or in the restaurant.
▪ Jalapeno’s, 1030 South Broadway, was placed on probation after a Dec. 12 inspection that scored 85 with a couple of critical violations. According to the inspection report, surfaces and food storage containers were unclean; there was no backflow preventer on the mopsink; floors in kitchen and dinner area were dirty; walls were dirty in the kitchen; and spray bottles with toxic contents were incorrectly labeled and stored next to single service items.
▪ Kroger and AFC Sushi, 3650 Boston Road, were both placed on probation after Dec. 11 inspections that found, among other things, evidence of rodents, including a dead rodent in bakery and deli area and rodent droppings in the sushi area, too. The store’s food service scored 88; the sushi section scored 92. Other violations included a can opener that they must stop using because it was leaving metal shavings on the food prep surface; unclean coolers and hot-holding food units, shelving, storage containers, floors and walls, some of which are in poor repair.
▪ La Guadalupana, 1533 Eastland Parkway No. 8, was placed on probation after scoring 71 on a Nov. 19 inspection. The inspector found potentially hazardous food not date-marked; raw beef stored above cooked food in reach-in cooler; an employee observed slicing vegetables barehanded; employee eating personal food in kitchen while prepping food; employee cell phone stored on surface where vegetables/ready-to-eat food is being prepped; employees prepping food with no hair restraints; dirty restrooms; hole observed in wall near ice machine; chemicals stored above clean cookware; multiple personal items stored throughout kitchen (“band aids, lotion, keys, phone”); aprons stored next to clean bowls. On the retail side (it is also a store), the inspector found mouse dropping on a shelf near the hand sink.
▪ Logan’s Roadhouse, 1908 Pavilion Way, was placed on probation after a Dec. 3 inspection that scored 61, one point above automatic closure. The inspector found four critical violations including adulterated food (specifically, condensation dripping into potatoes from lids hanging on a peg board and ceiling above the cooking vat); unhygienic practices (a personal drink stored on an in-use cutting board and an employee handling both dirty and clean dishes); no hot water at hand sinks; toxic items improperly stored (spray bottles not labeled at server station.) Other violations included ribs improperly thawing in a three-compartment sink; raw turkey stored above raw pork; food and spices stored uncovered; dirty equipment, including ovens, in the kitchen and bar; clogged and dirty sinks; dirty floors with standing water; dirty walls and ceiling; personal clothing stored in “clean” dishes and a stuffed toy stored above food and next to gloves.
▪ Malone’s/Drake’s, 3347 Tates Creek Road, was placed on probation after scoring 67 on Dec. 5. Violations included potentially hazardous food more than 24 hours old that wasn’t date marked; potentially hazardous chili kept at an unsafe temperature; lettuce improperly stored on trash can; fish stored uncovered in walk-in cooler; personal drinks not shielded with a lid and straw; employees not washing hands prior to gloving; employees preparing food without adequate hair restraint; “accumulation of soil” on shelving, gaskets, other surfaces; fountain nozzle in bar unclean; handwashing sink in bar unclean and used for other purposes; handsink in poor repair by prep line; and dirty linens stored on floor of storage room in water.
On re-inspection on Dec. 18, the restaurant scored an 89 after inspectors found an employee wearing an apron into the restroom and an employee not changing gloves between tasks; dirty shelves in bar and inadequate sanitizing. After an immediate follow-up with the manager speaking to the employees about the apron and the gloves and the sanitizer concentration corrected, the restaurant score was raised to 98.
▪ Meijer, 351 West Reynolds Road, was placed on probation after a Nov. 27 inspection of its food service and retail food areas. Although the store scored 96 for food service and 92 for retail food, the inspector noted “several small flies observed in the bakery area.”
▪ The Mill Bakery, 341 Southland Drive, was placed on probation Nov. 20 despite scoring 91 on an inspection when an inspector found toxic items improperly stored, a critical violation: pesticides were stored in the retail area, fly traps used above food contact areas and spray bottles not labeled. Other violations included flour and other dry goods not stored in rodent and pest proof containers; onions improperly stored; food products not covered or protected with a “sneeze guard” in retail area; and employees not wearing hair restraints in prep areas.
▪ Office Lounge, 1533 Eastland Parkway No. 3, was placed on probation after scoring 85 on a Nov. 19 inspection for, among other things, improper sanitizing; dirty microwave; and chemical spray bottles not properly labeled, a critical violation.
▪ Rodeway Inn, 750 Newtown Court, was placed on probation after a Dec. 18 inspection that scored 84. According to the inspection report, there were dirty surfaces; no mop sink (mop was left in standing water); no hot water or hand towels at the hand sink; and toxic items were not properly labeled.
▪ Spearmint Rhino, 5539 Athens-Boonesboro Road, was placed on probation after a Dec. 13 inspection that scored 90 but had one critical violation: unsanitized dishes.
▪ Tolly Ho, 606 South Broadway, was placed on probation after a Dec. 12 inspection that scored 68. The inspection report noted an employee was “observed handling raw bacon (then) touching ready-to-eat foods and plate with the same gloves” and employees also weren’t washing hands prior to gloving; raw turkey was stored above raw beef roast; the dishwasher wasn’t properly sanitizing dishes; and the toilet was in poor repair in women’s restroom. Also, the report noted that medicine, which was being sold without a retail permit, had to be pulled from shelves.
▪ Windy Corner Market, 4595, Bryan Station Road, was placed on probation after a Dec. 17 inspection that scored 87. The inspector cited the restaurant for employees not wearing hair restraints; a dish machine that was not sanitizing; unclean surfaces including shelves equipment, ovens and can opener; dirty utensils stored with clean and clean utensils in unclean containers; a handsink blocked by a rolling rack; and dirty floors, fans, and walls in food prep areas.
▪ Wong Wong Restaurant, 458 Southland Drive, was placed on probation after a Dec. 4 inspection that scored 79. Among other things, raw meats were improperly stored above ready-to-eat vegetables; personal drinks were on food prep surfaces; employees were not properly washing hands or were washing hands in the food prep sink; personal foods were stored with restaurant product inside the cooler; employees were not using sanitizer to properly wash dishes; utensils were stored unclean; dirty floors in kitchen; and one of the restrooms was inaccessible.