LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Ella Em's may have been voted best soul food in the past, but presently, it has the highest demerits in this week's Dirty Dining.
Its owner, Aem Upachak, who goes by P.K., immediately owned up to the violations on her restaurant's Sept. 8 inspection.
"I have no excuse. I take full responsibility."
Inspectors went to the soul food restaurant on Craig Road and Revere to follow up on a complaint about meatloaf that wasn't thoroughly cooked.
The inspector wasn't able to validate the complaint, but a full inspection left Ella Em's with a 27-demerit C grade.
When we were there speaking to P.K., we noticed that the restaurant had an A grade posted from May.
Darcy Spears: The A grade that's on your wall there, that's not your current grade.
P.K.: No, that's not.
Darcy: So it's kind of misleading for the public to see that when they come in.
Darcy: Why is an old grade up?
P.K.: Um, I guess we've just been busy and no one really even... Probably even forgot to take it down or... I don't know.
She says the inspector did not leave them a C grade card. But we checked with the Health District and got a statement saying,
"The facility was provided with an updated grade card. They are required to post the grade card received at the time of the most recent inspection. (Section 8 of our regulations.) It is a violation not to post a grade card – per regulation, that needs to be the most recent grade card."
As for the other violations, P.K. says, "Everything that's on that report, it's been handled. And when the health inspector was here, everything was corrected on premises."
She says the downgrade served as a wake-up call for the entire staff.
"When this happened I was really shocked. My whole staff was shocked."
She was particularly taken aback by the critical handwashing violations.
"A prep cook touched raw meat then touched a colander with cooked potatoes. The dishwasher put dirty dishes in the machine and then removed clean ones. That's really basic stuff. When you see your staff fail on that basic level, what do you do about that?" Spears asked.
"I take proper action. That's very important. We all have to wash our hands, especially during this time."
Other major violations included macaroni and cheese and a box of chitlins that had to be thrown out due to unsafe temperatures.
Two large containers of cabbage were in the temperature danger zone as well.
"And I've talked to the staff about it and it will not happen again," P.K. said.
Boxes of meat, a bag of onions and pans of cleaned green beans were stored on the floor.
"It was the day we had a shipment in and I was understaffed in the morning and when I walked in, the health inspector was here. I was unaware of it. But it will not happen again."
There was also an employee's food, drinks and a cell phone on the prep table with food for customers.
"I would think they would know better," P.K. said. "I had a few new staff that didn't know the rules."
The Health District is requiring Ella Em's staff to attend an intervention training.
"I'm kind of glad that happened because I want my whole staff -- everybody -- to be re-trained and let them know how important this is," P.K. said.
She showed us around the cleaned up kitchen to emphasize that things are on the right track.
Ella Em's was re-inspected Oct. 1 and got a zero-demerit A grade.
Click here to see the complaint for Ella Em's Soul Food.
Click here to see the health report for Ella Em's Soul Food.