Restaurant health inspections: The good and the bad

Posted on: 8:43 pm, February 28, 2013, by , updated on: 03:00pm, March 1, 2013

DENVER — Each week FOX31 Denver airs the Restaurant Report Card.  It’s an in depth look at health inspections conducted at Denver and Tri-County restaurants.

This week, a popular eatery on Denver’s 16th Street Mall earns an “F” for failing to meet health code requirements.

The Rialto Café failed its last two inspections with 12 critical violations. In October, inspectors found “food stored at improper temperatures.”

Workers were forced to throw out chicken noodle soup because it was not stored at a cool enough temperature. Other violations include employees “handling food with their bare hands, no hot water in the women’s restroom or on the cook line” and “no soap” at the hand sink.

The restaurant usually welcomes walk-ins, but not when it’s Heidi Hemmat and a FOX31 photojournalist.

An employee at Rialto Café told us, “We are not able to speak to you at all” about the health code violations. The restaurant’s manager refused our repeated requests for an interview, but told us that all of the violations have been corrected.

The second restaurant to earn a failing score in our restaurant report card is Mi Pueblo Latin Market on East Colfax in Aurora.

The authentic Mexican food may be a hit with the locals, but not with health inspectors.

During the restaurant’s January inspection, inspectors found seven critical violations and six critical marks in July.

In this case the “F” could stand for flies. Inspectors found “many flies in the meat counter” and “flies and a cockroach in the kitchen.”

Other violations at the restaurant include employees cited for “storing cilantro in a container with raw beef,”  “dirty fingernails” and “handling food with bare hands.”

The manager of Mi Pueblo Latin Market would not comment but referred us to the general manager who did not return our calls.

Pasta Jays in Lone Tree failed to make the grade with the Italian chain racking up five critical violations in January.

The restaurant on Park Meadows Drive was dinged for “failure of employees to demonstrate knowledge of food borne disease prevention.” There was “no food probe thermometer” at the time of inspection and “chemical spray bottles” on the cook’s line were not labeled.

The manager of the restaurant, who started working at this location just last month, told us that “all violations were corrected,” and you can expect them on the grade “A” list in the future.

Another failing grade goes to McCabe’s Bistro and Pub on Main Street in Aurora.

Health inspectors found six critical violations last month including “food stored at the wrong temperature.”

The manager told FOX31 Denver that mashed potatoes and roast beef were disposed of and the steam drawers were fixed to hold hot food at the required temperature.

Shawn Popp, the general manager, said, “The last thing I want to do is make someone sick. I welcome the health inspector because it helps us do better at what we do.”

Pho 104 in Northglenn earns an “F” for failure to use proper sanitation including hygienic practices.

As far as employees are concerned, the inspector said, “Employees were repeatedly observed putting on new gloves without first washing hands.”  In the kitchen “an employee was observed sanitizing the food contact surfaces in the kitchen with a sanitizer concentration of less than 10 ppm chlorine residual.”

Inspectors tell FOX31 Denver that amount of chlorine is too weak and that the sanitizer needs to be 50-200 parts per million to effectively sanitize dishes. The manager of Pho 104 did not return our calls.

And finally, a note to all franchise restaurants:  whatever Red Lobster in Northfield is doing, copy it. The seafood chain’s store at that location reeled in perfection with spotless inspections in December and August of last year.  Red Lobster earning a GRADE A in restaurant report card.

The inspections are all available online for you to check out.
Tri-County Health Department Inspection Results
Denver Health Inspection Results