Inspector briefly closes Lauderhill restaurant for second time; Boca Raton and Miami also eateries cited

Critical violations of state sanitation and safety laws recently observed by inspectors at three South Florida restaurants and a caterer prompted the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation to cite the owners, including one already shut down this month, and briefly suspend operations. 

Happy Wok Chinese Restaurant, 1615 N. State Rd. 7, Lauderhill was briefly closed June 6 after an inspector observed numerous violations including rodent droppings. The business was allowed to open the next day after an inspector found that there was no longer a threat to public safety and welfare.

But on June 18, some of the same violations were observed by an inspector and included: an employee with no hair restraint who was engaging in food preparation; a container without a handle was used to dispense sugar; there was a leaking pipe under a hand washing sink and that sink was used for food preparation; there were 15 to 20 fresh rodent droppings around the water heater, 2 fresh droppings were on top of the water heater and 2 droppings were behind a freezer; there were live flies in the kitchen; rodent rub marks were present along walls/ceilings, on fire suppression pipe work and on an extension cord behind freezers in a kitchen corner and there was a strong odor of rodent urine and feces upon entering the kitchen.

Rodent gnaw marks were observed around a rice bin lid; a spray bottle containing a toxic yellow liquid was not labeled and there was no currently certified food service manager on duty with four or more employees engaged in food preparation/handling.


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The business was allowed to reopen June 19. Manager Alzhu Liu said her restaurant has been fully renovated.

“We are in old building,” Liu said. “We changed everything. Everything is brand new and painted. There are no more rats or droppings. Pest control is coming every week.”

Liu said some of the violations observed by the second inspector were left over from the earlier closing.

“The second time they came, there were old rub marks that I missed,” Liu said. “The gnaw marks on the rice container were on a container that was no longer used. I replaced all the containers.”

Sushi Mann Express & Food Art Catering, 220 S.W. 31st St., Fort Lauderdale was briefly closed June 21 after an inspector observed: no proof of parasite destruction or aquaculture documentation for cold smoked salmon served raw or undercooked, and the fish had to be fully cooked or discarded; an employee failed to wash hands before putting on a new set of gloves to work with food; an employee beverage container was on a food prep table or over/next to clean equipment/utensils; the dish machine was not washing/rinsing properly; no paper towels or mechanical hand drying device was provided at the hand washing sink in a sushi prep area; there were 7 dead roaches under a table in the bakery prep area and there were 8 live roaches on top of a bakery prep table; there were 9 live roaches in a prep area, on top of containers with bakery sweet toppings, including almonds and chocolate; the exterior door had a gap at the threshold that opens to the outside and proof of required state training was not available for some employees.     

The business was inspected again June 23rd and allowed to reopen after previous conditions that created a severe and immediate threat to public health no longer existed.  An employee said management declined to comment.

Saquella Caffe, 410 Via de Palmas, Unit 82, Boca Raton was briefly closed June 19 after an inspector observed potentially hazardous cold foods (cheeses, smoked salmon, sauce, sour cream) held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. The operator said during rush hour, the cooler door was “opening back and forth.” The inspector recommended that food is stored on a side of the cooler with safe temperatures.

The inspector also found: a salad reach-in cooler and back side of a walk-in cooler were incapable of maintaining potentially hazardous food at proper temperatures; the kitchen panini press was encrusted with grease and/or soil deposits; the hand washing sink was not accessible to employees at all times and a glass rack was stored in it, there were no paper towels or mechanical drying device provided at a kitchen hand washing sink; the paper towel dispenser at a hand washing sink was not working in the bakery station; more than 92 rodent droppings were found, including 1 fresh dropping by the sugar and flour bin, 1 by the dough machine, 1 by a cooler, 50 fresh droppings behind a prep table and behind a freezer and cooler in the bakery station.

There were more than 20 dried and fresh rodent droppings under the dish washing machine and 3 compartment sink, 5 fresh and dry rodent droppings were underneath a kitchen microwave shelf and more than 15 dried droppings were in a back room beneath an oven and prep table.

There was 1 live roach was found behind a stove/grill in the kitchen and there was a hole in the wall.

The business was allowed to reopen June 20 after an inspector found that previous conditions that created a severe and immediate threat to public health no longer existed.  

Owner Avi Sekerel said, “We were surprised to find droppings at our back door entrance. We immediately fixed the problem and took new measures to prevent it from ever happening again. We thank our loyal customers for their understanding and support.”

Mi Pueblo Restaurant, 10910 W. Flagler St., Miami was briefly closed June 19 after an inspector observed containers/bag/case of food stored on the floor in a dry storage area; food was not stored at least 6 inches off of the floor; there were dead roaches throughout the dry storage area; more than 20 live roaches were found along the wall near a steam table, hot holding area and inside the kitchen and there was food debris accumulated on the kitchen floor.

The restaurant was allowed to reopen June 20 after an inspector reported there was no sign of roaches and a licensed exterminating company had serviced the business. The manager could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Crime & Safety blog reports on inspections of South Florida dining spots as the state pursues its goal to visit Florida’s 45,000 licensed restaurants.

If you're going out to eat, search our restaurant databases before you leave home.

The state says it's not the number of critical violations that will cause a restaurant to be temporarily shut down, but rather the nature of what an inspector finds that merits closing a business.

After a restaurant is shuttered, an inspector typically visits again within 24 hours and continues to visit until violations are resolved and the business can re-open. Repeat critical violations can lead to fines in a future administrative complaint levied by the state.

If a bad dining experience makes you feel ill, it’s easy to complain to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation by calling 850-487-1395 or by filing a report online at MyFloridaLicense.com.  But beware: that’s not the place for personal vendettas. False reports can lead to misdemeanor charges.

And if you haven’t checked out a bistro’s inspection history online before making a reservation, state law requires restaurants to provide customers with a copy.