Restaurant News & Reviews

Portofino, Joella’s, Planet Thai, Save-A-Lot placed on health department probation list

Hear how restaurants end up on probation, and what it means

Hear about how restaurants in Lexington end up on probation by Fayette County Health Department's environmental health coordinator Skip Castleman and supervisor Luke Mathis.
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Hear about how restaurants in Lexington end up on probation by Fayette County Health Department's environmental health coordinator Skip Castleman and supervisor Luke Mathis.

Popular Lexington restaurants, two places known for great fried chicken, an Asian market, yet another Subway and two day cares were placed on probation after recent inspections by the Lexington health department.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department places restaurants and food service establishments on probation when they score 84 or below on an inspection or when they have critical violations that can’t be immediately addressed. From Feb. 6 to March 11, 19 places were added to the probation list, which includes about 170 food service establishments.

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Portofino, one of Lexington’s long-standing fine dining restaurants, was placed on probation after scoring 85. Owner Wayne Masterman this week blamed some issues on their historic building that houses the restaurant on the ground floor.

“For the past 20 years, our restaurant has continued to update our 115 year old building to meet modern standards. This task has been challenging to say the least,” he said in a statement. “However, Portofino takes food safety concerns as our most important public responsibility and we believe we have addressed and corrected all issues that were identified in the recent review. We anticipate that city officials will report that the concerns have been eliminated.” He said they expect to be reinspected this week.

Joella’s Hot Chicken, a popular spot in Chevy Chase, also was added after scoring 77 for issues including potentially hazardous food, unhygienic employee practices and a waste disposal draining into the driveway.

“Joella’s Hot Chicken is dedicated to providing a safe, clean atmosphere and quality food to our customers. Each and every inspection report is taken very seriously and our team immediately fixed the issues pointed out in the March inspection report at our Lexington restaurant. We will continue to evaluate ways to maintain a high level of safety and health standards at each of our Joella’s locations,” said Christina Happel, regional vice president of operations for Schulte Restaurant Group, in a statement.

Another place know for great chicken, the Save-A-Lot on Southland Drive, also was placed on probation for potentially hazardous food, including lunch meat and green beans. The store had no immediate comment.

Planet Thai, perennially voted one of Lexington’s most popular restaurants, was placed on probation after scoring 60, barely escaping automatic shutdown. The restaurant did not respond to requests for comment.

If a restaurant scores below 60 or has live roaches or rodents visible, then it is shut down immediately.

Chocolate Holler, a downtown coffee spot, also landed on the list. “Unfortunately one of our bathrooms was down and we ended up getting a 94 on that inspection. We still had another one working, but we are required to have two functioning ones and we couldn’t fix the broken one on premises,” said owner Salvatore Sanchez. “All fixed and we got a 100 on our follow-up. But we messed up. Should have had them both working and the health department worked with us to figure out a solution.”

Only one restaurant in Lexington was shut down during the reporting period: Mandarin, which had previously been placed on probation, was closed when the owner declined to continue a follow-up inspection.

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 a 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.

Here are the restaurants recently added:

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Anniston Mini Mart at 1488 Anniston Drive has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Anniston Mini Mart, 1488 Anniston Drive, on probation since Feb. 14 after scoring 80. The inspector found expired over-the-counter medicines including Nyquil, Midol and Pepto Bismol caplets; no thermometers in the coolers; heavy ice accumulation in the ice cream deep freezer; walk-in gasket in in poor repair; shelves rusted; dirty ice machine and shelves; plumbing not maintained at three-compartment sink; no cold water in restroom handsink; dirty restroom; no handsoap, paper towels or toilet paper in restroom; dirty floors and equipment; used mop water left sitting; and chemicals stored above single-service items.

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Chocolate Holler on Old Vine has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Chocolate Holler, 400 Old Vine Street, Suite, 104, was placed on probation on Feb. 15 despite scoring 95. The inspector found only one bathroom in working order at the time of inspection and thermometer missing in food area.

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Chrysalis House Family Program at 120 Chrysalis Court has been placed on probation. Matt Goins

Chrysalis House Family Program, 120 Chrysalis Court, was placed on probation on March 11 after scoring 89. The inspector found evidence of the presence of mice in dry storage; rodent bait stations not enclosed; dirty shelves; and clean utensils stored in dirty drawers by the stove.

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Detroit Coney Island at 825 Lane Allen has been placed on health department probation. Matt Goins

Detroit Coney Island (also known as Bluegrass Foods), 825 Lane Allen, was placed on probation on March 6 after scoring 70. The inspector found potentially hazardous food not date-marked and stored improperly; unhygienic practices including personal items stored on food prep surfaces and kitchen equipment throughout the kitchen; employee preparing food without proper hand washing and gloving; proper beard restraint not worn; dishes not properly sanitized; kitchen equipment in poor repair or repaired with aluminum foil; dirty, floors, walls and kitchen equipment; clean utensils stored on dirty cleaning cloths; miscellaneous items found throughout kitchen including toothbrush and toothpaste stored at handsink.

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Family Dollar at 393 Waller Avenue was placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Family Dollar, 393 Waller Avenue, was placed on probation after a Feb. 13 inspection that scored 84. The inspector found spoiled packaged ham for sale, as well as expired over-the-counter medications; no backflow preventer on the mop sink; employee restrooms “are very unclean and the toilets are in poor repair;” and dirty floors, among others.

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Joella’s Hot Chicken at 101 Cochran Road has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Joella’s Hot Chicken, 101 Cochran Road, was placed on probation on March 6 after scoring 77. The inspector found potentially hazardous foods stored uncovered in coolers; employees not washing hands between tasks or before putting on gloves; employees preparing food without proper hair restraints; shelving in poor repair and dirty; mop sink not properly working; waste disposal draining into the driveway; garage door not sealed to prevent entry of pests; floors, walls, ceilings and equipment in poor repair; and employee personal items improperly stored.

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Kare Bears on Peabody Way has been placed on health department probation. Matt Goins

Kare Bears daycare, 1697 Peabody Way, was placed on probation on Feb. 13 despite scoring 96. The inspector found presence of rodents.

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La Taquiza at 130 W. Tiverton Way unit 190 Tuesday in Lexington. Photo by Matt Goins Matt Goins

La Taquisa, 130 West Tiverton Way, was placed on probation on Feb. 12 after scoring 92. The inspector found potentially hazardous food including bulk containers not labeled and chicken improperly thawing in the sink at room temperature; dirty can opener; and fly paper hanging from the ceiling above the three compartment sink.

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Little Caesar’s at 135 E. New Circle Rd. has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Little Caesar’s, 135 East New Circle Road, was placed on probation on Feb. 11 after scoring 77. The inspector found food contaminated by a leaking ceiling; employee drinks stored on in-use food prep surfaces; employees handling food while not wearing hair restraints; no Fayette County food handler cards; no food manager present; gaskets in poor repair; shelving, can opener and racks unclean; dirty dishware stored above clean pans; no handwashing signs at handsinks; restrooms unclean; walls, ceilings, attached equipment and vents not clean; and mops stored improperly.

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NuHealth Supplements at 3001 Blake James Drive has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

NuHealth Supplements, 3001 Blake James Dr., was placed on probation on Feb. 6 after scoring 88. The inspector found there was no certified food manager present, no test strips for the sanitizer, dishes not properly sanitized in the three compartment sink, the reach-in freezer was unclean and there were no hand towels at the handsink.

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The Nutrition Zone at 509 E. New Circle Rd. has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

The Nutrition Zone, 509 East New circle Road, was placed on probation Feb. 15 after scoring 76. The inspector found food containers not properly labeled; no thermometers in reach-in coolers; scoops stored handle-down in containers; no disposable gloves; no hair restraints; raw wood present in multiple locations; no test strips for sanitizer; improper plumbing and other issues.

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Penn Station at 2220 Nicholasville Rd. has been placed on health department probation. Matt Goins

Penn Station, 2220 Nicholasville Road, was placed on probation on 2/22/2019 after scoring 76. The inspector noted unhygienic practices including an employee wiping hands on apron then gloving without washing hands, using hand sanitizer instead of washing, and storing personal drinks improperly; employees also prepared food without adequate hair restraint; fryer baskets were broken; equipment in poor repair and repaired with duct tape, which cannot be sanitized; dirty floors, walls, surfaces and equipment; clean utensils stored in dirty bins or bins lined with dirty parchment paper; handwashing sink used for storing chemicals rather than washing hands; dining room in poor repair; chemicals improperly stored; and employee coats stored on shelves above bread.

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Planet Thai at 2417 Nicholasville Rd. has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Planet Thai, 2417 Nicholasville Road, was placed on probation on 3/7/2019 after scoring 60. The inspector found potentially hazardous food not date marked; food stored on counter rather than in reach-in coolers or on ice; food stored on floor in food area of kitchen; raw food products improperly stored in reach-in coolers and freezers; unhygienic practices including personal items stored on various surfaces, employee touching hands to mouth while on phone in kitchen, an employee phone stored on food container and employees without hair restraints handling food; wiping cloths improperly sanitized; three-compartment sink area and plumbing unclean or in poor repair; improper sanitizing of dishes; dirty shelves, equipment, floors and walls; hot water too hot (150 degrees); and improperly labeled chemical spray bottle.

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Portofino at 249 E. Main St. has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Portofino, 249 East Main Street, Suite 102, was placed on probation on March 7 after scoring 85. The inspector found expired dairy (sour cream); dishwasher not sanitizing properly; dirty kitchen equipment, vents and hood; outer openings not protected against entry of pests; and wall and ceiling in kitchen in poor repair.

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Puddle Jumpers Learning Center at 1940 Cambridge Dr. has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Puddle Jumpers Learning Center, 1940 Cambridge Drive, was placed on probation on Feb. 20 after scoring 88. The inspector found food stored on the floor of the kitchen; cabinets in poor repair or repaired with duct tape; walls and ceilings in poor repair; the facility disposing of mop water in the back yard because it doesn’t have a mop sink; and toxic chemicals not properly labeled.

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Save-A-Lot at 398 Southland Dr. has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Save-A-Lot, 398 Southland Drive, was placed on probation on March 5 after scoring 70 on food service and 83 on retail. The inspector found potentially hazardous food not properly date marked, including lunch meat; food, including green beans, at improper temperature; employee not washing hands prior to closing; employee items stored next to food product; employee “observed with clothes not properly fitted,” and without beard restraint; single-serve items being reused; pizza boxes stored unclean; dirty shelves with food debris; leaking three-compartment sink; improper sanitizing near raw chicken prep area in food. In retail, the inspector found expired food; improper sanitizing in veggie prep area; dirty floors and more.

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Speedway at 1001 Georgetown Rd. has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Speedway, 1001 Georgetown Rd., was placed on probation on Feb. 8 after scoring 74 on food service and 90 on retail. The inspector found potentially hazardous food not held at proper temperatures, including hot dogs and chili; employee not properly washing hands before gloving; personal drinks stored in cooler and on food prep surfaces; personal jackets on prep surfaces; employee preparing food not wearing hair restraints; improper sanitizing including no sanitizer buckets available and dishes not sanitized; dirty surfaces including tongs for hot dogs; dirty floors, walls, ceiling and equipment; and mop stored in dirty water. In retail, the inspector noted food on the floor of the walk-in cooler; dirty ice machine in soda fountain, and no soap or paper towels at the hand sink.

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Subway at 4101 Tates Creek Center unit 160 has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Subway, 4101 Tates Creek Center, was placed on probation on March 11 despite scoring 90. The inspector noted employees were preparing food without adequate hair restraints, toxic chemicals were improperly stored (above toilet paper and paper towels) and the sanitizer bucket was stored on food prep surfaces.

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Yu Yu Asian Market at 393 Waller Ave. has been placed on probation by the health department. Matt Goins

Yu Yu Asian Market, 393 Waller Ave., was placed on probation on March 8 after scoring 79. The inspector found potentially hazardous food including shellfish (required tags are not being kept for 90 days); many food products not labeled; food improperly stored including raw meats stored above vegetables in the walk-in cooler; raw food product improperly displayed and not protected from patrons; dirty surfaces in the back room; many utensils being stored in the handwashing sink, making it inaccessible; improper sanitizing; and dirty floors and walls.

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