Filth at Burger King, Popeyes, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s: Miami restaurant inspections

·11 min read

Roaches running next to inspectors, sewage backup, fly in a drink, four major national chains — we have everything but three dates for your friends in this edition of the Sick and Shut Down List.

WITHOUT RULES, THERE’S CHAOS: What follows comes from Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation restaurant inspections in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties. A restaurant that fails inspection remains closed until passing an inspection.

If you see a problem and want a place inspected, contact the DBPR. We don’t control who gets inspected nor how strictly the inspector inspects.

We don’t include all violations, just the most moving, whether internally or literally moving (because it’s alive or once was alive). Some violations get corrected immediately after the inspector points them out. But, you have to ask, why do the violations exist in the first place? And how long would they have remained if not for the inspection?

We report without passion or prejudice, but with enough humor for leftovers.

In alphabetical order...

Burger King, 1255 S. Nob Hill Rd., Davie: Complaint inspection, 10 total violations, one High Priority violation.

“Standing water on the floor at the front area.”

“Observed walls throughout establishment soiled with food build up residue.” Ew.

And, ahhh, the ice machine...”Accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine/bin. Observed interior of ice machine with mold like build up.”

Now, let’s talk about the 265-plus flies the inspector counted in this week’s Amityville Award Winner.

“Observed flies throughout whole establishment, cook line, drive thru area, handwashing sink, mop area, in all food preparation areas.”

How did anybody in this BK Lounge fit building Whoppers satisfying each person’s idiosyncrasies between fly-hunting swats, slaps and claps?

The inspector counted 50 or more live flies in each — EACH — of these areas: the mop sink area in dry storage; the soda shelf in dry storage; landing on “to-go lids for cups, to-go bags, ice cream cones, to-go cups,” some of which weren’t covered; “coming off bread racks with bread stored on racks.”

Another 30 flies played on the three-compartment sink shelf around once-clean, once-sanitized-now-not-either pans. In the aisle on the way to the drive-thru window (you know, the payment one that’s closed half the time), the inspector counted 15 flies.

“Observed 10 or more live flies flying around front drive thru area where cooked egg croissants are held and chocolate shakes are made.” Another 10 dead flies were on the gaskets of an open cooler, the one with creamer containers, vanilla and chocolate syrups.

This BK was OK after re-inspection the next day. Love to know what they did with the flies.

READ MORE: A Miami-Dade Smoothie King can’t receive new food after failing another inspection

Dragon Pho, 7740 Nova Dr., Davie: Complaint inspection, 40 total violations, 11 High Priority violations.

We’re making sport of the disgusting conditions under which national brands serve you food, but for the worst of this week’s worst, enter the dragon.

Start with a dead fly being in a customer’s drink.

The dishwasher machine was out of sanitizer. Keep that in mind as we slog through this.

“Observed cutting board soiled by cookline.”

Inside and around the cutting boards of the flip top, reach-in cooler, the inspector found an “accumulation of slime, watery debris and dead roaches by the cookline.”

A wood food-contact surface wasn’t properly sealed. Why does that matter? “Observed wooden table/shelf with a rice cooker with roaches in the crevices next to the cookline.” How many roaches? About a dozen, according to another part of the inspection.

Might as well get to the roach count, which reached at least 62, including “over 50 dead on floor throughout the establishment (including, but not limited to, the dining room, dishwashing area, cookline, and hallways).

As for the live versions, one scooted across the dining room floor in front of a customer (but, that wasn’t the most impudent) and another strolled above the steam table that had soups. One was on a prep table by a smoothie station. Pick up a cookline mat and you’d find 15 roaches congregating.

The inspector put down the abacus and picked up the Stop Sale lightning and cast it down upon cooked noodles (86 degrees) and pork (44 degrees) that had been cooling overnight, but still weren’t under 41 degrees. And, those cooked noodles were in garbage bags, a violation for “nonfood-grade containers being used for food storage in direct contact with food.”

“No probe thermometer provided to measure temperature of food products.” You can get away with that at home, although you shouldn’t do it. At a restaurant? Unacceptable and dangerous.

Two workers, one cutting ready-to-eat limes and the other plating sprouts and mint, were doing so with bare hands and fake nails with polish. That’s a no-no, even more perilous to diner’s health with the hot water faucet handle missing in the women’s restroom and no way to dry hands at the kitchen and dishwashing area handwashing sinks.

“Employee with no hair restraint while engaging in food preparation.” Which employee? “...all employees.”

Back around to the flies. We covered one of the 17. Another four landed on clean and dirty containers in the dishwashing area. Five flies included clean plates in their plop down spots on the cookline.

But the most old school Hurricane cocky flies were the three “flying around and landing on tables, wall and the Inspector in the dining room.”

No less brash was the roach that crawled across a dining room table as the inspector sat there finishing working on the inspection report.

There’s no indication Dragon Pho has passed re-inspection after the inspector waded through the gunk on Aug. 9. In fact, as of Thursday morning, it’s marked on Google as “temporarily closed.” Someone picked up the phone Thursday afternoon, but nobody said anything.

The only sound was the clanging of cleaning.

Jojos Take-Out, 1700 45th St., West Palm Beach: Routine inspection, 13 total violations, five High Priority violations.

We’ve got a Gretzky! (Or, for you millennials an “Ovechkin.” That’s a “McDavid” to you Gen Z readers).

A hat trick of bad inspections by any name smells just the same. Especially when this literal hole-in-the-wall restaurant had “sewage/wastewater backing up through floor drains at the kitchen.”

“One roach on the floor at kitchen. Employee killed it.”

The rodents dumped three poo pieces on a shelf underneath a kitchen prep table. Another 17 dotted the floor between two walk-in coolers and 20 were around a water heater in the kitchen. And the main toilet was a kitchen shelf, where the inspector counted 50 signs of regularity on the shelf and the containers it held.

Stop Sales trashed rice and cooked pork fixed the previous day and put in the apparently worthless reach-in cooler.

The three-compartment sink didn’t have hot running water, which makes at least two of the compartments as worthless as that reach-in cooler.

Showing the importance of handwashing at Jojo’s, the water at the employee handwashing sink didn’t get hot enough. The kitchen handwashing sink lacked soap.

Re-inspection No. 1 (failure No. 2): The problems with the ceiling (“shows damage or is in disrepair”) and the hole in the wall behind the walk-in cooler (told you that adjective was literal) from the first inspection were “not repaired properly.”

The rodent poop count was down to seven.

Re-inspection No. 2 (failure No. 3): The ceiling? “Tiles not fixed or replaced...holes/opening still present.” The little furries must have been away or munching walnuts the previous day because on Inspection No. 3, they squeezed out 50 droppings under dry storage shelves next to the walk-in cooler, 20 on other shelves near that cooler, seven under the three-compartment sink and seven behind a reach-in cooler in a prep area.

Re-inspection No. 3: Passed.

Papa John’s, 19343 S. Dixie Hwy., Cutler Bay: Complaint inspection, nine total violations, three High Priority violations.

Who designed the kitchen so that the garbage can got put next to the cookline handwashing sink, putting the five flies playing over the garbage close to the food?

The roach count was two dead, both near a prep table, and 14 live ones, one of which was by the front counter and six on walls in the prep area.

Maybe that’s not a thinly cut black olive on your pizza. “Observed one employee engaged in food preparation with no hair restraint.”

This joint passed re-inspection on Aug. 10. But, a week later, on Wednesday...Complaint inspection, six total violations, two High Priority violations.

“Clean utensils or equipment stored in dirty container above the three-compartment sink. Equipment and utensils not properly air-dried — wet nesting.”

This time, the flies near a trash can were near the dishwashing area, but also near “a wheeled cart with canned goods.” Six were there and another four were in a dry storage area by the back door.

As for the roaches, there were four live ones, including one doing the Spider-Man up a wall above a reach-in cooler and one in dry storage under a shelf with pizza boxes. The dead dominated with one “on a plastic container used to store pizza dough” in dry storage, two behind the door in dry storage, two by the office desk; 10 under a shelf with soda bottles and over 20 by the water heater in dry storage.

Pizza Hut, 3396 SW 22nd St., Miami: Routine inspection, four total violations, one High Priority violation.

Envisioning the inspector looking at this mess and saying, “This water is standing...” and a manager with an old school, Richard Pryor sense of humor saying, “Yeah, and it’s deep, too!”

In the kitchen near a flip-top reach-in, the inspector saw “water from the back up sewage from the floor drain on floor after washing hands at the hand washing sink.”

Some people say still waters run deep. In restaurants, they just stink.

“Objectionable odors” in the “kitchen area, and the floor drain by the pizza flip-top reach-in cooler.”

Somebody found some Drano, and the Hut was back in business after passing re-inspection the next day.

Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, 20690 NW Second Ave., Miami Gardens: Routine inspection, nine total violations, two High Priority violations.

In July, this place just did enough to get by with a “follow-up inspection required” followed by a passed inspection. And a Complaint inspection on Aug. 11 got the “follow-up required” — you didn’t do well on the test, but you get to fix up a few things to get up to a C — with flies and food contact surfaces (hot holding stations, preparation tables, condiment station, and flour sifter) with levels of dust and grease.

OK, so the inspector returned on Aug. 12 and saw the same problems listed on Aug. 11, the ones we mention above and the ones we didn’t. After giving that hint and a half, the inspector came back later on Aug. 12 and burned Popeyes chicken.

“Observed one live roach crawling in the microwave...” Another one was crawling on a pipe under a kitchen handwashing sink.

“Observed one dead roach between a gap of the wall and the ceiling, located in the front area, chicken prep area.”

“Kitchen and walk-in freezer floors are soiled...”

“Interior of oven/microwave has accumulation of black substance/grease/food debris...hot holding stations, preparation tables, condiment station, and flour sifter has accumulation of dust, and grease.”

A clean container sitting on a rack near the walk-in freezer had three flies on the outside and four flies on the inside, accounting for 35% of the 20 flies the inspector counted.

“Ceiling tiles/vents soiled with accumulated dust, or mold-like substance.”

So before the inspector came back Saturday, did the staff pull out the 409 and do some wax-on, wax-off-ing? They did not.

“At the time of the call back inspection, observed the wall behind the stand-up cooler has grease and debris. At the time of the call back inspection, observed ceiling tiles/vents soiled with accumulated dust, or mold-like substance.”

The flies remained, too.

Popeyes took two days and passed re-inspection Monday.

Souvlaki Fresh, 122 NE Second St., Boca Raton: Routine inspection, four total violations, two High Priority violations.

Raw chicken skewers thawing in standing water just begs for foodborne illness. The official violation is “time/temperature control for safety, food thawed in an improper manner.”

Three live roaches were under a reach-in cooler in a kitchen prep area and 10 live roaches were on the floor around a water heater.

Prep kitchen floor tiles were “missing and/or in disrepair.”

Souvlaki passed a same-day re-inspection.

Villa Rosano, 9858 Clint Moore Rd., Boca Raton: Routine inspection, seven total violations, four High Priority violations.

“Raw, in-shell clams and mussels from different original containers mixed together prior to preparation for service.” Don’t do that.

The inspector dropped Stop Sales on too-warm tomato sauce and chicken stock that had been cooling overnight.

There were 10 live roaches over the clean side of the dishwasher station and two live roaches on the floor under the clean side of the dishwashing station.

The villa passed re-inspection the next day.