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15 eateries ran afoul of county health regulations in June
restaurant inspections

15 eateries ran afoul of county health regulations in June

Bianchi’s Pizza, 1110 N. Silverbell Road, had “black, greasy” cooking sheets and other dirty kitchen equipment during a health department inspection in June.

Fifteen food service establishments failed Pima County Health Department inspections in June. Here are eight of them, five of which passed follow-up inspections, two awaiting re-inspection and one that remains open but is currently unlicensed. The remaining inspection results will be published Sunday, July 29.

Here’s what you need to know:

Bianchi’s Pizza

1110 N. Silverbell Road

History: Good and excellent ratings until 2015 but a spotty record more recently. The restaurant was put on probation June 15 and failed two follow-up inspections June 25 and July 6, prompting a warning from the health department that its operating permit could be revoked if problems weren’t fixed. Four of the last 10 health inspections had negative findings.

What the inspector saw: Nine of 14 cold foods tested — including shredded cheese, lasagna, raw and cooked chicken, raw hamburger and roast beef — were stored at unsafe temperatures because refrigerators weren’t set to proper cooling level; foods stored in containers without expiration dates; no hand-washing sink in food preparation area; employees didn’t wash hands after handling dirty dishes; grimy equipment such as “black, greasy cooking sheets,” and dirty refrigerator shelves; take-out containers stored on dirty shelves; manager not certified in food protection management.

Follow-up: The eatery passed a third follow-up inspection July 11.

Comments: Owner Vincent Bianchi said the first inspection was on a busy day when employees hadn’t had time to clean after the lunch rush, and said many problems were fixed the same day they were identified. He acknowledged he did not act promptly to install a hand-washing sink in the food preparation area and instead kept using a sink in a different area. He said the kitchen seemed too small for a new sink but he later found one that fit and had it installed.

Circle K #8772

1735 W. Speedway

History: Mixed. Good and excellent ratings until 2016, but three of its last five health inspections had negative findings. The store received a “needs improvement” rating on June 19, then failed two follow-up inspections on June 20 and June 29.

What the inspector saw: Milk, breakfast burritos, steak burritos, beef charbroil, baked ranch chicken and smoked turkey stored at unsafe temperatures; dirty handwashing sink; no paper towels at handwashing sink.

Follow-up: The store was put on probation after the June 29 inspection because some problems inspectors identified had not been corrected.

Comments: Declined to comment.

Fito’s Taco Shop

9665 N. Thornydale Road, Suite 130.

History: Good and passing ratings since 2016, but received a “needs improvement” rating May 25, followed by a failed inspection on June 11. The eatery is currently operating without a license and the health department has posted signage on site to notify the public.

What the inspector saw: Carne asada, taco beef, chicken, chile relleno, shredded cheese and pico de gallo stored at unsafe temperatures; foods not marked with discard dates; no handwashing reminder sign in the women’s restroom; manager not certified in food protection management.

Follow-up: A new owner recently took over and “chose to remain open and is operating without a permit until they qualify,” the health department said. Numerous improvements must be made to floors, walls, kitchen sink drainage and general cleanliness before a permit can be issued, an inspection report said. A re-inspection has yet to occur, according to health department website.

Comments: A message seeking comment was not returned by deadline.

Jade Garden Chinese Restaurant

3720 W. Ina Road #106

History: Good or excellent ratings for last several years, but received a probationary rating on June 4, when it was briefly was shut down as an “imminent health hazard” after sewage backed up into the kitchen. The site also failed a re-inspection on June 14.

What the inspector saw: Employee handled raw food, then cooked food, without washing hands; hand-washing sinks blocked and inaccessible; rice and noodles stored at unsafe temperatures; cooked shrimp, pork and chicken stored without use-by dates; dirty cutting boards, shelves and equipment; insecticide stored in food preparation area; dirty wiping cloths used on counters and equipment; sewage back-up in kitchen; “heavy grease, dust and food debris build-up on floors, walls and equipment throughout the facility.”

Follow-up: The restaurant passed a June 25 follow-up inspection.

Comments: Manager Sam Che said he takes health inspections seriously and has corrected deficiencies.

Living Room Wine Cafe and Lounge

2905 E. Skyline Dr., suite 168

History: Good and excellent ratings since 2016, but the eatery was put on probation June 8.

What the inspector saw: The site was put on probation after inspectors — for the third time in nine months — found “visible food debris encrusted” on numerous dishes. Inspectors also found faulty freezer gaskets and excessive food debris in a walk-in cooler. As well, the eatery was advertising a “pet-friendly” patio without having the required permit for that feature.

Follow-up: The site passed a re-inspection on June 18.

Comments: General manager Derrick Stephens said the problems were fixed within a week and said food quality was not affected.

Magpie’s Gourmet Pizza

105 S. Houghton Road, suite 149

History: Good and excellent ratings for more than 10 years until a June 4 “needs improvement” rating and a failed inspection on June 20.

What the inspector saw: Missing ceiling tile over food preparation area created risk of contamination; manager not certified in food protection management; employee drink in food preparation area; kitchen lacked required three-compartment sink with separate sections for washing, rinsing and sanitizing equipment.

Follow-up: The sink issue remains unresolved but the health department is working with the owner to address.

Comments: A message seeking comment was not returned by deadline.

Midtown Tavern

3620 N. First Ave.

History: Spotty. Negative findings in four of six health inspections since December. Most recently, it received a probationary rating June 5, followed by a failed inspection June 15.

What the inspector saw: Three of four hand-washing sinks had no soap; cook and supervisor unaware of correct cooking temperatures for fish, chicken or hamburgers; dishes and cutlery stored as clean had food debris; no menu warning about dangers posed by under-cooked foods such as rare beef.

Follow-up: The site passed a June 25 follow-up inspection.

Comments: Owner Frank Silverman, who took over in November 2017, said he has been working to fix problems left behind by previous ownership. He said recent violations were “minor” in nature and have been corrected.

Shish Kebab House

5855 E. Broadway, suite 118

History: Good and excellent ratings for 10-plus years, until a May 31 “needs improvement” rating followed by a June 11 failed inspection.

What the inspector saw: Beef kebabs, lamb kebabs and raw diced beef were stored at unsafe temperatures in refrigerated cooling drawers under the grill. The issue was still unresolved more than 10 days later when a subsequent inspection took place.

Follow-up: Passed a second follow-up inspection June 21.

Comments: Owner Reina Alas noted the eatery’s long record of positive inspections. She said the recent problem was due to an equipment breakdown and said it took about two weeks for a replacement to arrive.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or calaimo@tucson.com. On Twitter: @AZStarConsumer

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Reporter

Carol Ann has been with the Star since 1999, but has been an investigative reporter for more than 30 years. She's won numerous awards in the U.S. and Canada. In 2003, she was a war correspondent in Iraq and was a Knight-Wallace Fellow in Michigan in 2008.

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