Restaurant Report Card: Empress Seafood, Taco’s Jr. and Falafel King

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DENVER -- The restaurant is called Empress Seafood, but health inspectors were not impressed with what they found during an unannounced inspection in August.

Empress Seafood

The restaurant located at 2825 West Alameda Avenue earned an “F” for 15 critical violations in its last two regular inspections in August 2014 and August 2013.

In its most recent inspection, a health expert found dead insects which appear to be roaches. Also in the report, “Investigator observed multiple cans of Raid roach killer … in dry storage” which is not approved for use in a restaurant.

The reports also said raw beef, raw shrimp, onions and cabbage were stored on the floor and the inspector “observed a piece of raw chicken directly on a whole watermelon.”

We called the owner and asked for interview, but he did not call us back so we stopped by for a look at the restaurant. Fox31 Denver’s Heidi Hemmat asked, “You were storing raw chicken directly on top of a whole watermelon. Why would you do that?”

The owner, Ken Wong said, “Uh that? I was not aware of that. He did not mention that.”

Wong told us the health inspector made a mistake when he cited the restaurant for that violation and all of the others have been corrected. Wong said, “We correct that after he finished inspection, so he came back the next week and everything was fine.” The restaurant passed a follow up inspection in September.

Taco's Jr.

Our next “F” goes to Taco’s Jr. on Sheridan Boulevard. Denver Health inspectors cited the restaurant for 13 critical violations in its unannounced August inspection.

The report said, “Employee observed shredding zucchini that was visibly soiled; inspector scraped pieces of dirt off of zucchini with her fingernail.” Produce must be washed before being served.

Hot dogs, cheese and bacon were held at unsafe temperatures and had to be thrown out.

Also, there was no sanitizer on the cook line and “soiled, unsanitized wiping cloths observed being stored on food preparation surfaces.”

The inspector also noted, “Raw meats and other food products … being stored uncovered” and “beef and spices observed being stored on the floor.”

We repeatedly tried to reach the owner, but the restaurant’s phone was disconnected. An employee gave Hemmat the owner’s cell phone number, but the owner did not return our call.

Falafel King

The A of the weeks goes to Falafel King on the 16th street mall inside Republic Plaza. The restaurant had no critical violations in two inspections in a row. Owner Avner Gilady said, “It’s our duty, so it’s not like we pat ourselves for keeping the place clean. It’s supposed to be clean. It has to be clean … I’m very proud of the recognition actually.”

How restaurants appear on our Report Card

HEIDI HEMMATRestaurant Report Card features health inspections in the city and county of Denver, Jefferson County and restaurants under the jurisdiction of the Tri-County Health Department. The Tri-County Health Department includes Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

An inspection is a “snapshot” of what is happening during the day and time of the inspection. On any given day, a restaurant could have more or fewer violations than noted in an inspection. Also, at the time of an inspection, violations are recorded and can be corrected prior to the inspector leaving the restaurant. If violations are not corrected, a follow-up inspection is scheduled.

The criteria FOX31 uses to give a restaurant a failing grade includes the evaluation of two unannounced inspections by county health inspectors. A failing restaurant must have five critical violations on their most recent regular inspection and five critical violations on the previous regular inspection. Health inspectors may conduct critical or follow-up inspections, due to the number of critical violations found during a regular inspection. Those inspections may also be considered for our reports. We recognize restaurants with two perfect regular inspections in a row by awarding them an A.

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