DENVER -- Every week on Restaurant Report Card we take an in-depth look at the health code violations found at Colorado restaurants. This week, we reveal the most fined restaurants in 2013.
Frutieria and Carniceria La Mexicana
Coming in at number one is Frutieria & Canicera La Mexicana located at 706 N. Sheridan Blvd. where inspectors fined the restaurant $5,000.
On February 4, inspectors found 13 critical violations including “a dead mouse was observed under the hand sink” and “one live cock roach observed on the wall.”
Inspectors repeated the inspection process February 11 and found six critical violations including “a live adult cockroach…crawling up the wall.”
Inspectors were back at the eatery on February 19 and noted a repeat problem with workers keeping food at the correct temperature.
Health experts returned on February 27 and said “a live mouse was observed running across the floor.”
In March, inspectors finally found what they were looking for, a restaurant with zero violations. The restaurant did not return our calls for comment.
Pasquini's Pizzeria on Broadway
Number two on the list is Pasquini’s Pizzeria on Broadway were inspectors fined the restaurant owners $3,250 and issued several orders to clean the pizzeria.
On April 10, inspectors discovered “a dead moldy mouse in a bucket of water near the ice machine” and “more than 200 rodent droppings…throughout facility.”
Inspectors were back at the restaurant April 26 and again noted “more than 60 rodent droppings observed on food storage shelf in front kitchen area.”
On May 3 the inspector said “more than 40 rodent droppings (were) observed on floor…” Pasquini’s manager, MC Guillemette said, “We take the health department inspections very seriously. Customer service, food quality is our highest priority.” Inspectors noted the “facility is visibly cleaner” in May with zero violations.
Taco Y Salsa
Inspectors also fined Taco Y Salsa (1205 S. Federal) $3,250 for repeat critical violations.
The restaurant was cited for food not being held warm enough. Inspectors found green chili not hot enough and asked workers to reheat the food.
Also, inspectors said many items were being held uncovered including “spices, beans, meats, fish, and salsa…stored uncovered in dry storage and in refrigerators and freezers.”
Inspectors said “food and debris accumulation observed on floors, walls, drains, equipment etc.” FOX31 Denver made repeated attempts to contact management, but no one returned our messages.
Pho on 6th Avenue
At number four on the most fined list is Pho on 6th Avenue in Denver. The Congress Park eatery paid $3,000 in fines and was forced to “cease and desist serving food” from May 9 until reopening on May 15.
Inspectors found “one live mouse…12 dead mice and hundreds of mouse droppings” in the restaurant.
Health experts said the kitchen was "covered in food debris, grease, grime…and a layer of black dirt.” The owner ignored our requests for an interview, but a waiter told FOX31 Denver that the violations have been corrected.
Landry's Downtown at the Aquarium
Landry’s Downtown restaurant located at the Aquarium faced $3,000 in fines and comes in tied for 4th as the most fined restaurant this year in Denver.
The chef “voluntarily disposed of lobster and shrimp” after inspectors found the seafood held at too warm of temperature in February.
In April, inspectors ordered the restaurant to throw out desserts including “key lime pie, crème brûlée and cheese cake” because they were held at too warm of temperature.
Inspectors also cited the restaurant three different times this spring for employees not washing their hands. The corporate office said, "In April, inspectors gave the restaurant a clean bill of health with zero violations."
Super Star Asian Cuisine
Super Star Asian Cuisine located at 2200 W. Alameda Ave. faced a $2,750 fine for repeated critical violations.
Inspectors closed the restaurant on January 23 for excessive pest problems. Inspectors said “due to excessive rodent droppings and rodent urine on and in food and food contact surfaces” the restaurant was closed for one day.
In March inspectors saw “dead and live German and oriental cockroaches.” The owner of the restaurant told FOX31 Denver that the problems have been fixed.
Inspectors fined Taco Mex at 7840 Colfax Avenue $2,250 for repeated violations.
On April 10 inspectors said multiple food items including “diced tomatoes, red and green salsa, raw fish filets and bacon” were all held above 41 degrees Fahrenheit, which experts say can make you sick.
Inspectors also found the cleaner to be “at toxic concentration” and “moldy jicamas.”
They were back April 17 and again multiple food items were being held at too warm of temperature. On April 24, health experts found no violations, but were back this summer in July and found “no soap at the hand sink” for workers. The restaurant owner did not return our repeated phone calls.
Little H Burger
At number eight on the list of most fined restaurants in Denver is Little H Burger on N. Colorado Boulevard where inspectors fined the eatery $2250.
In January, inspectors investigated a complaint and found food was not being held at warm enough temperature.
Inspectors ordered the restaurant to “cease and desist” making burgers and chicken patties and holding them below 135 degrees.
In May inspectors said, “There is no soap available in the facility to be placed at the hand sink.” On May 30 inspectors returned to the location and found no violations.
Rialto Café Downtown
Inspectors slapped Rialto Café at 934 16th St. on the mall $2250 in fines.
In April they found numerous food items including “black been salsa, country gravy and green chili” being held at too warm of temperature. All potentially hazardous foods listed were discarded.
The inspection report also told operator to train employees to ensure compliance.
Health experts also said the “sanitizer concentration measured at 150 ppm” which is too weak to sanitize surfaces. Inspectors said the concentration must be 200-400 ppm.
Inspectors were back on May 2 and found “cooked pasta, cubed beef, sliced cheeses, and raw beef steaks” and other foods held too warm again. Workers discarded the food.
An inspector returned on May 9 and found no violations. The manager did not return our phone calls.
Denver’s Department of Environmental Health issued $2,000 in fines to four different restaurants resulting in four eateries tying for the tenth most fined restaurant so far this year in Denver.
Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar
Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar paid $2,000 in penalties for critical violations.
In March inspectors “observed 22 four-ounce raw duck breasts inside a wooden wine cabinet.” Inspectors said the operator did not have a plan in place for the “fermentation process” and must “cease and desist” the process.
Robert Thompson, owner, said, “We wanted to offer our customers something different, but we stopped making them. We don’t have a history of running a dirty restaurant. Denver is a revenue collection process and the fine is a crock.”
Inspectors found nine critical violations in February and seven critical mistakes on March 14. They were back on March 21 and reported no violations.
Also paying a $2,000 fine is Sushi Den located at 1487 South Pearl Street. The inspector said in February that an employee “was observed handling clean lettuce with his bare hands” and that “the chlorine dish machine was producing an undetectable amount of chlorine” while in use.
Half of the fine was assessed in January for six critical violations including additional training needed for employees.
A restaurant representative told FOX31 Denver, "Sushi Den works closely with the health department to be sure all policies are up-to-date and is committed to the providing the highest quality food and restaurant environment."
King Wok located on S. Sheridan Blvd. paid a $2,000 fine for critical violations including not holding food warm enough and not keeping it cold enough.
An inspector found “shrimp, noodles and chicken wings between 96 and 119 degrees Fahrenheit when they need to be held at 165 degrees.
The inspector also said “pans of chicken” were between 56-60 degrees when they should be held at 41 degrees or colder.
Health experts said the wrong temperature is a critical violation because bacteria grow when food is at the wrong temperature and that will make you sick. No one from the restaurant returned our calls.
Taco Denver at 1550 Blake Street also paid a $2,000 dollar fine for repeat critical violations.
The LoDo taco establishment failed its June inspection with 14 critical violations. A health inspector actually “observed raw beef falling into a box of produce” and “the produce was not washed prior to use.”
The inspector said “employees were not washing their hands as needed” and there were “numerous flies.”
Owner Raz Gnat blamed a former employee for the bad inspections. “We had a kitchen manager that performed well in the past that we trusted to run a tight ship and he failed.”
The owner said the entire kitchen staff was replaced and new operating procedures were introduced to the staff. Within two weeks of the new staff taking over, the restaurant scored a perfect inspection on July 22.
Check Your Favorite Restaurants
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