Restaurant Report Card: Columbine Steak House, Viets, Qdoba

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DENVER -- Columbine Steak House & Lounge may be known for their steaks, but health inspectors were concerned about what could have been on the customers’ plates.

Columbine Steak House & Lounge

The steak house at 300 Federal earned an “F” on Restaurant Report Card for 11 critical violations found during two unannounced inspections which took place in December and June of 2014. In December an inspector said, “…a line cook handled raw steak, then handled clean plates…” and “…cook handled raw steak product and then wipe(d) hands on towel … then proceeded to wipe down plates with the soiled towel prior to placing ready to eat foods on the plate ware.”

An inspector with Denver’s Department of Environmental Health also found the dishwasher was not sanitizing, salad dressings were held at unsafe temperatures which can cause food poisoning and there was “an accumulation of debris” on the cooking equipment.

Our calls to the restaurant were not returned so we stopped by for a look. FOX31 Denver’s Heidi Hemmat asked the owner, “Does the cook know that he shouldn’t use a dirty towel to wipe clean plates or touch raw steaks then touch clean plates?” The owner said, “He has his tongs, he knows that. We’re on top of it. We’ve been here 53 years and we’ve never had any kind of food poisoning.” The owner said she is keeping a close eye on the cooks and that all the violations have been corrected. Columbine Steak House passed a follow up inspection on January 6, 2015.

Viets Restuarant

Viets Restaurant at 333 South Federal also scored an “F” on our report card for 11 critical violations in its February 2015 and March 2014 regular or unannounced inspections. The February report said, “Inspector observed an employee wearing gloves tie up the garbage bag in the trash can, wipe hands on apron, toss cut raw chicken, then touch woks, pots, pans and other utensils … without changing gloves or washing hands.”

The inspector said there was no soap at the kitchen sink, trash bags were used to store food and the plumbing was not maintained.

We left messages for the owner, but when our calls were not returned, we stopped at Viets Restaurant for our own inspection. Hemmat asked, “Do your employees know not to touch the trash while they are cooking?” The manager said, “Yes” and that all the problems have been fixed. He showed us the kitchen to prove it. Viets passed a follow up inspection in February.

Qdoba on Grant Street

And our “A” goes to Qdoba on Grant Street in Denver for perfect back-to-back inspections. A spokesperson did not let us inside, so their safety secrets stay secret.

How restaurants appear on our Report Card

Restaurant Report Card airs on FOX31 Denver News at 9 each Thursday night and it features health inspections in the city and county of Denver, Jefferson County, Weld County and restaurants under the jurisdiction of the Tri-County Health Department. The Tri-County Health Department includes Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

HEIDI HEMMATAn 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 Denver 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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