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Employee turnover causes turmoil as Tacos Mexico lands on Dirty Dining

Plus, imminent health hazard at Baskin Robbins
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Posted at 4:51 PM, Mar 03, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Tacos Mexico has occupied its spot on Sahara Avenue and Valley View Boulevard for more than two decades.

The well-known red and white restaurant barely avoided a shutdown on Feb. 16 when it got a 38-demerit "C" grade on a routine inspection.

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Owner Marta Vega said she believes violations corrected on-site should've been taken off the inspection but understands that her restaurant did have issues.

Critical violations included improper handwashing, unsafe food temperatures and expired food including week-old caldo and two-week-old menudo.

Vega says her kitchen employee didn't write the correct date, claiming it was a problem with labeling, not the food itself.

"She can't read and she can't write things down properly," said a manager who was helping translate for Vega. "She doesn't know. She didn't go to school."

They say they're doing on-the-job training and teaching, even scheduling a session with a food safety consultant, but keeping in mind the fact that "people make mistakes."

Their mistakes included improperly cooled cooked carrots, cooked chilies, cooked beef and house-made salsa that had to be thrown out.

Vega said when the inspector questioned employees about proper food temperatures, "They didn't know [how to] answer because when [they] see the health department, they get scared."

Inspectors also noted uncovered food in the fridge on peeling shelves, raw beef thawing in a sink next to dirty dishes, clean pots contaminated by raw beef and a dense accumulation of old dried food on the vegetable peeler and can opener blade.

DIRTY DINING | Health inspection reports from Las Vegas restaurants

"We have people back and forth because we have no stable schedule, we have no stable people and they come for one week, two weeks and then they go," the manager said. "And some of them, they don't know the rules."

When we pointed out that everyone who has a health card should know the rules, he said, "Sometimes they don't follow the rules and you have to tell them over and over again. Sometimes they forget or make mistakes."

And all they can do is fix it.

"I come to cook too, and I eat here," said Vega. "I want people to know it's safe and what happened during the inspection is not the norm for us."

Tacos Mexico was back to a six-demerit "A" grade on Feb. 24.

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Thirty-one flavors, 16 demerits and one imminent health hazard at Baskin Robbins ice cream shop on Boulder Highway and Basic Road in Henderson as it was shut down on Feb. 19 for lack of adequate handwashing facilities.

The shop’s only hand sink in the food prep area wasn’t working.

Staff told inspectors it had been backing up and they were waiting for a plumber to arrive.

In the meantime, they were using the restroom sink, but that's not good enough under our state's health code.

Inspectors also found defective cans of caramel and chocolate topping that had to be thrown out, an employee’s uncovered drink stored above customer food and kitchen surfaces that were dirty or in disrepair.

Baskin Robbins' closure was short-lived.

It was re-inspected the same afternoon and re-opened with a zero-demerit "A" grade.

The person in charge at the store said they had no comment.

Click here to see the health report for Tacos Mexico.

Click here to see the health report for Baskin Robbins.