No running water, rodent droppings ‘too numerous to count’: 7 South Florida restaurants shut

Tainted chimichurri, no running water and roaches crawling at a pizza station were among the issues that forced the state to shut seven South Florida restaurants last week.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel typically highlights restaurant inspections conducted by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation in Broward and Palm Beach counties. We cull through inspections that happen weekly and spotlight places ordered shut for “high-priority violations,” such as improper food temperatures or dead cockroaches.

Any restaurant that fails a state inspection must stay closed until it passes a follow-up. If you spotted a possible violation and wish to file a complaint, contact Florida DBPR. (But please don’t contact us: The Sun Sentinel doesn’t inspect restaurants.

Zen Sushi + Robata Grill, Boca Raton

9690 Glades Road

Ordered shut: Dec. 8; reopened Dec. 9

Why: 12 violations (four high-priority), including about 75 flies seen “landing on clean wooden bowls on prep table shelf” and “on soda syrup cases and containers of sauces” in a storage room, as well as “flying over trash can and dirty linen basket” in the kitchen,” “flying around bottles of liquor” in the dining area bar, “around single-service cups at coffee machine,” and “over trash can and fresh kale at prep sink” in sushi bar.

The report also red-flagged improper food storage: “raw beef being stored over unwashed carrots” and “raw shell eggs being stored over ready-to-eat carrots” in walk-in cooler.

Despite racking up one high-priority and one basic violation during a second inspection, the sushi restaurant was cleared to reopen the next day.

The Original Pancake House, Palm Beach Gardens

4364 Northlake Blvd.

Ordered shut: Dec. 7 and Dec. 8; reopened Dec. 8

Why: 25 violations (nine high-priority), including at least 18 rodent droppings in spots such as “under waffle make table,” “under flat top used to keep metered butter” and “on small table used to store clean pots in storage room.”

The inspection also found three live flies “at dishwasher area” and “at prep area by walk-in cooler” and about 29 dead roaches “under mixer at prep station” near the cook line, “next to soda dispenser,” and “under prep table off of cook line,” next to “clean pot and pans on table in storage room.”

An employee was seen wiping down a “spatula with spiked cloth before using it to scramble eggs.” The report also included an employee observed “at cook line with damaged gloves.”

Finally, the state noted “all walls throughout the kitchen, dishwasher area, prep area and cook line” were soiled with “accumulated grease, food debris, and/or dust.”

The pancake chain was closed a second time on Dec. 8, then cleared to reopen later that day after the state found four basic and one intermediate violations.

Prezzo, Boca Raton

5560 N. Military Trail

Ordered shut: Dec. 6; reopened Dec. 7

Why: Five violations (one high-priority), including 18 live roaches “on prep table at pizza station,” “on ground behind prep table and shelving directly next to salad station” and “on bottom shelf of shelving holding paper products.”

There were also three “dead roaches on shelving directly next to salad station.”

The state found a single intermediate violation during its follow-up inspection and let the restaurant reopen the next day.

Donna’s Caribbean Restaurant, Lauderhill

5434 N. University Drive

Ordered shut: Dec. 6; reopened Dec. 7

Why: 15 violations (seven high-priority), including at least 41 rodent droppings found “along wall under bar area,” “behind bar among liquor bottles and glassware,” “on floor around booths in lounge dining room,” “on floor around buffet area” and “along wall in dish room.”

In one area — “under shelving unit in far back stock room behind walk-in cooler where beverages are kept” — the report said they were “too numerous to count.”

The restaurant was ordered to stop selling and trash items including marinated chicken, cooked kidney, whole raw chicken and raw marinated oxtail “due to temperature abuse.”

One employee was seen “washing dishes and (then) proceeded to move into kitchen area to assist without washing hands before putting on gloves.” The report also noted that a worker left the “kitchen area with container of raw chicken and returned and put on gloves without first washing hands.”

Other observations: “Kitchen, lounge dining room, and dish room areas have buildup of food debris along edges of wall”; “sewage/wastewater backing up through floor drains … under reach-in cooler in kitchen and in front of hand sink at front of kitchen”; and “employees walking through grey water and tracking around kitchen area.”

A next-day reinspection yielded two violations (basic and intermediate), but the restaurant was cleared to reopen.

Singing Bamboo Chinese Restaurant, West Palm Beach

2845 N. Military Trail, Suite 11

Ordered shut: Dec. 4; reopened Dec. 5

Why: Eight violations (four high-priority), including 26 rodent droppings “in kitchen on floor under double-door, reach-in cooler” and “in back dining room on floor.”

The inspection also discovered one live cockroach and 21 dead roaches in areas such as “in kitchen on floor under prep table” and “at wait station on floor under storage shelves.”

The restaurant reopened the next day after its second inspection yielded zero new issues. It was previously ordered shut in October and twice in 2022 for similar rodent dropping and roach issues.

La Casa de Peinado Restaurant, Boca Raton

22777 State Road 7

Ordered shut: Dec. 4; reopened Dec. 5

Why: 10 violations (five high-priority), including about 20 live cockroaches found crawling “under the flat-top beverage cooler behind the front counter in the dining room.”

An employee was seen handling a “sanitizer bucket and after that, he touched the chicken tray.” Additionally, the restaurant was ordered to stop selling and toss its chimichurri “due to temperature abuse.”

Although a next-day reinspection found three intermediate violations, the restaurant was able to reopen.

Avocado’s Food (inside Sawgrass Mills mall), Sunrise

12801 W. Sunrise Blvd., Suite 184

Ordered shut: Dec. 4; reopened Dec. 4

Why: Nine violations (five high-priority), centered around one glaring issue: “Establishment operating with no potable running water.”

The restaurant had “no dishwashing facilities of any kind provided,” “no running water at three-compartment sink” and “no running water at only hand wash station.”

During a same-day reinspection, Avocado’s had one high-priority and one intermediate violation but was cleared to reopen.

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