Hear how restaurants end up on probation, and what it means
Three Lexington restaurants were closed in the last month after health inspectors discovered serious issues as part of routine inspections.
All three restaurants were on the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s probation list, which means the food service establishments were subject to stepped-up inspections targeted to potential health hazards. Since 2015, the health department has placed restaurants on probation if they score 84 or below or have a critical violation that cannot be immediately remedied.
Shut down, but reopened
The three restaurants have all been allowed to reopen but remain on probation. They are:
▪ Subway at 2160 Sir Barton Way was closed on April 8 for not having hot water. The inspector also noted potentially hazardous food not being kept cold enough and an employee using a personal pocket knife to slice open packages of deli meat.
The health department gave Subway 10 days to fix the hot water issue, then returned. “It still wasn’t fixed so we gave them another day,” said Skip Castleman, health department supervisor. They replaced the water heater but that turned out not to be the issue. “When we came back and there still wasn’t any hot water, our hands were tied,” he said. A repairman apparently turned off the hot water valve to the restaurant. After the problem was fixed, Subway reopened the next day, Castleman said.
▪ Happy China at 1301 Winchester Road, was closed for two days after a May 8 inspection found multiple critical violations resulting in a score of 53. Inspection scores below 60 result in automatic closure; a restaurant also may be closed for critical violations deemed an imminent health hazard, Castleman said.
Problems included raw meats stored improperly, cabbage stored on the floor and vegetables not washed prior to slicing; employees not washing hands and people living at the restaurant. And there was a live turtle in the mop sink in the kitchen.
After a follow up inspection on May 10, the restaurant scored 94, the turtle was gone and Happy China was allowed to reopen. The owners told the health department the turtle was given to them as a pet for their son and was subsequently released near a lake.
▪ Dixie Value Mart at 1875 August Drive, a convenience store doing business under the name of Zenith Petroleum and formerly known as Swift Ventures, scored a 47 for food service, meriting instant closure.
On April 29, an inspector found potentially hazardous food at unsafe temperatures; raw eggs and chicken stored above ready-to-eat food; unhygienic practices including an employee not washing hands or gloving properly, personal food in kitchen, and personal toothpaste stored on cooking equipment; improper sanitizing; dirty and greasy countertops, shelves, cabinets, kitchen equipment, can opener, stove and microwave; improper storage of toxic items and much more.
But they successfully passed their follow-up inspection on May 3 with a score of 93 and reopened.
Newly added restaurants
As of May 8, about 180 food service providers were on probation, with 23 added between March 11 and May 8.
The new additions included UK student haunts Best Friend Bar, Lynagh’s and the McDonald’s on South Limestone next to campus, which is scheduled to be torn down and rebuilt; and two more sushi restaurants, Sushi Blue on Pasadena and Sakura Japanese Restaurant, home of “half-price sushi.”
Lynagh’s said, in an email, that the restaurant was “put on probation because of a problem with a bathroom. We’ve been reinspected and received a 96.”
Best Friend Bar co-owner Seth Brewer said that since the bar lost its permanent food provider they have used “the kitchen mostly for keg storage, and the floor had taken a beating. So there was some deferred maintenance that we got popped for — especially a damaged floor, leaking sink, and dirty hood, along with some other minor infractions. All have been remedied, and we have been revisited and regraded. We now have a 98.”
Restaurants come off probation after passing two consecutive regular inspections with no critical violations. Some restaurants have been on probation for years.
Placed on probation
Here are the restaurants placed on probation from March 11 to May 8:
▪ Best Friend Bar, 500 Euclid Avenue, was placed on probation on April 4 after scoring 81. The inspector found, among other things, the Gatorade spigot and the ice machine were dirty; the hand sink in the bar had no hot water; the plumbing to the three-sink compartment sink was leaking; floors, kitchen hood vent, and walls behind equipment were dirty; and chemicals were improperly stored.
▪ Big City Pizza, 1060 Chinoe Road, was placed on probation on April 24 despite scoring 92. The inspection noted the grease trap was in poor repair.
▪ Burger King, 451 New Circle Road, was placed on probation on May 2 after scoring 78. The inspector found contaminated uncooked chicken; employees not washing hands; improper sanitizing; dirty surfaces, shelves, coolers, floors, walls and ceiling; clean utensils stored in a dirty container; leaking sinks; and the back door propped open.
▪ Captain D’s, 245 New Circle Road, was placed on probation on April 3 after scoring 75. The inspection found unhygienic practices including employees not washing hands before putting on gloves and storing drinks on prep areas; no sanitizer in the bucket at the prep surface; dirty equipment and microwaves; dirty floors, walls and ceiling and more.
▪ C&J Food Bar, 1230 Eastland Parkway, was placed on probation April 9 after scoring 77. The inspection found potentially hazardous food including chicken and deli meat held beyond expiration, food not date-marked and expired milk; condiments held at unsafe temperatures; food service employee not wearing hair/beard restraint; improper sanitizing; leak at the three-compartment sink; dirty floor, walls and multiple surfaces including the can opener, cart, shelves, oven microwave and cooling units.
▪ Church of the Good Shepherd, 533 East Main Street, was placed on probation on March 29 despite scoring 95 after the inspector noted the dishwasher not properly sanitizing and the ice machine was unclean.
▪ Denny’s, 1949 Nicholasville Road, was placed on probation on April 10 after scoring 80. The inspector found flying insects throughout, unsafe food temps, and chemical spray bottles improperly stored next to food, among other things.
▪ Domino’s Pizza, 828 Lane Allen road, was placed on probation on April 1 despite scoring 95. The inspection found the dishes were not properly sanitized and clean dishes were stored on a dirty surface.
▪ Eastland Food Mart, 1542 Eastland Parkway, was placed on probation on May 3 after scoring 81. The inspector found expired eggs that were stored above ready-to-eat items; no soap or towels at the bathroom hand sink, which was dirty and in poor repair; dirty floors; toxic chemicals improperly stored above food; employee clothing and possessions improperly stored; and living and sleep quarters on site not completely separate as required.
▪ Fazoli’s, 3775 Harrodsburg Road, was placed on probation on April 30 after scoring 81. The inspector found unhygienic practices including personal drinks on food prep surfaces and a personal phone next to clean dishes, among other things.
▪ H&M Market, 1220 North Limestone, was placed on probation on April 2 after scoring 88 for food service. The inspector found potentially hazardous smoked sausages; hand sink being used for purposes other than hand washing; dirty floor, ceiling, cabinets and inside of microwave; and a mattress and blankets on site. On the retail inspection, the inspector also noted expired medication.
▪ Kids-N-Kapers daycare, 1896 Courtland Drive, was placed on probation on May 8 after scoring 89. The inspection found dirty cabinets, drawers and can opener; no mop sink; dirty floors and more.
▪ Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, 3014 Richmond Road, was placed on probation on April 23 after scoring 79. The inspector found food improperly stored; employees not wearing hair restraints; employees not putting gloves on properly; personal drinks or food stored improperly; improper sanitizing; dirty kitchen equipment, floors, walls and hood; only one restroom in the restaurant and the toilet in poor repair.
▪ Lynagh’s, 384 Woodland Avenue, was placed on probation on April 25 after scoring 86. The inspection found fruit/drain flights throughout the establishment, particularly in the bar and in the men’s restroom; urinal in poor repair; dirty surfaces, floors, walls and ceiling.
▪ McDonald’s, 357 South Limestone, was placed on probation on March 11 after scoring 76 on an inspection that found a live roach in a sink; employees not wearing hair restraints; improper sanitizing; “many” food and other surfaces dirty, including dining room tables; ice machine leaking from the first floor into the basement; full garbage bags sitting in on the floor next to the back door and on the sidewalk near the back door; dirty floors throughout; walls, ceiling and vents dirty; and kitchen area “very unorganized and cluttered.”
▪ Minit Mart, 4096 Nichols Park, was placed on probation on April 8 after scoring 87 on food service and 89 on retail food. The inspector found potentially hazardous food; “food manager in charge does not demonstrate basic food safety principles;” improper sanitizing; personal clothing stored on canned food; dirty floors and no hand towels at sink.
▪ Penn Station, 1719 North Broadway, was placed on probation on April 2 after scoring 83. The inspector found an employee putting on gloves without washing hands, employees not wearing hair restraints and employee drinks stored on prep surfaces; too much sanitizer solution in the dishwasher; and dirty surfaces and floors under equipment.
▪ Provision Living at Beaumont Centre, 1165 Monarch Street, was placed on probation on April 5 despite scoring 94. The inspector noted employees without hair restraints and the dishwasher not sanitizing properly.
▪ Qdoba, 2630 Richmond Road, was placed on probation on March 15 after scoring 78. The inspector found mold in the ice machine contaminating the drinks; potentially hazardous food not kept hot enough; personal food stored improperly with customer food; lack of hair restraints and more.
▪ Sakura Japanese Restaurant, 1015 Winchester Road, was placed on probation on April 26 after scoring 74. The inspector found potentially hazardous food not kept cold enough; employee drinks, lacking lids and straws, stored improperly throughout the facility and two employees without adequate hair restraints; shelves lined with dirty aluminum; cardboard used to cover food in the walk-in cooler; thermometer not sanitized between uses; and improper sanitizing, including not using separate cloths for raw and ready-to-eat food.
▪ Southern Hills United Methodist Church Daycare, 2356 Harrodsburg Road, was placed on probation on April 4 despite scoring 96. The inspection noted improper sanitizing because they couldn’t be sure the rinse temperature in the dishwasher was reaching 180 degrees.
▪ Super Mercado Aguacalientes, 1424 Alexandria Drive, was placed on probation on April 12 after scoring 65. The inspection found potentially hazardous food including meat held at an improper temperature; chicken thawing in the three-compartment sink at room temperature; food stored uncovered; an ice scoop in a bucket with raw chicken pieces; employees without gloves; personal items throughout facility; employees in food prep area without proper hair restraint; improper sanitizing and more.
▪ Sushi Blue, 185 Pasadena Drive, was placed on probation on April 4 after scoring 86. The inspection noted potentially hazardous food, specifically flour for chicken was not changed every four hours; the dishes weren’t being properly sanitized with chlorine and more.