Denver’s top health code violators revealed

DENVER — This week in Restaurant Report Card we reveal the 25 Denver Restaurants that have received the most fines for critical violations last year.

The Local

At the top of the list, The Local, a breakfast, brunch and ice cream parlor near Washington Park that received $5,000 in fines last year.

During an inspection, investigators found “three dead baby cockroaches floating in the half-and-half” and “one dead cockroach in the skim milk.”

Inspectors also cited employees at The Local, located at 2217 East Mississippi Ave., for using “poor hygienic practices” and “not washing produce prior to use.”

Last year’s most recent inspections took place in October.

The Local is a fairly small restaurant and not well-known in the community, but our review found some of the cities more popular restaurants with large fines.

Denver Country Club

The Denver Country Club ranks number five on the most fined list.

Even though the country club is a private club, some un-invited guests keep showing up.

Denver inspectors discovered “dead mice” and “rodent droppings in and around the kitchen” during three different inspections last year.

The club’s public relations spokesperson Andy Boian said, “Although the overwhelming number of health inspections has been positive, there are a few we are not proud of.”

Boian told Fox 31 Denver investigative reporter, Heidi Hemmat, that the kitchen staff has made some mistakes, but they are working to correct the problems.

Last year, inspectors were on site six times after finding critical violations. Inspectors found zero critical violations during the club’s most recent inspection which took place a couple of weeks ago.

Sushi Den

At number eight on the most fined list, Sushi Den on South Pearl. The sushi restaurant is recognized as one of Denver’s best restaurants yet worst offenders according to health inspectors.

The restaurant, which is known for its fresh fish flown in daily from Japan, racked up $3,750 in fines last year.

Health Inspectors say employees failed to keep the fish and other potentially hazardous food cold enough during inspections last year.

Inspectors also found employees using “produce that had not been washed.”

Sushi Den’s owner, Yasu Kizaki, said “Sushi Den has consistently held high standards for its diners and employees. Sushi Den works closely with the Health Department and all violations were corrected immediately. At no time was there any possibility of the dining public coming in contact with anything below pristine food or restaurant conditions.”

Inspectors were at the restaurant a half a dozen times between April and December after finding critical violations.

Owners say fine process is not fair

Some restaurant owners question the process of issuing fines for violations — a practice that was implemented in January 2011.

Danica Lee, food program manager for Denver Environmental Health, said since the new fine system took effect “critical violations have dropped nearly 30 percent from 2.2 critical violations per restaurant to 1.6 critical violations per inspection at the end of last year.”

Inspectors fine restaurants if they find a repeat critical violation during a second inspection.

RESTAURANT REPORT CARD TOP 25 FINED RESTAURANTS:

Restaurant Name

Total Fines in 2012

The Local (is under new ownership. No records available)

$5,000

Ho Mei

$4,250

Blue Bay Asian Café

$4,000

Café Europa

$4,000

Denver Country Club

$4,000

Tacos Rapidos

$4,000

H Burger Lounge

$3,750

Sushi Den

$3,750

Little Shanghai

$3,500

Paramount Cafe

$3,500

Stoney’s Bar & Grill

$3,500

Kevin Taylor/Prima

$3,250

Whole Foods

$3,250

Can Tho Pho

$3,000

Carniceria Guadalajara

$3,000

China Jade Seafood Restaurant

$3,000

I Fish Japanese Grill & Sushi

$3,000

Lime Xs

$3,000

Moon Gate Asian Grill

$3,000

Parisi An Italian Mkt & Deli

$3,000

Pasquini’s Pizzeria

$3,000

Pho Le

$3,000

Thai Basil Hangout Grill

$3,000

Viets Restaurant

$3,000

Fontana Sushi

$2,750

Whole Foods issued a statement Thursday about its citations.

“At Whole Foods Market there is nothing more important to us than the integrity and safety of our food. We received eight citations in our 65,000 square foot store located on Hampden Avenue during the course of 2012. Five of those eight citations were given for related, but separate instances when a different one of our 113 coolers was not holding a necessary temperature.  After each inspection we adjusted the cooler in question to ensure it was in compliance. We have stringent health and safety standards in all of our stores, and want to ensure our customers that our products are checked frequently for safety, and that these issues were corrected immediately,” says Ben Friedland, Whole Foods executive marketing coordinator.


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