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Havana Express becomes Dirty Dining repeat offender

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Posted at 11:51 PM, Jan 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 02:51:57-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — You may remember Havana Express from two years ago when flooding from a rain-damaged roof forced the restaurant to temporarily close.

It was on Dirty Dining later that same year, and is now a repeat offender.

The restaurant and bakery on Tropicana and Eastern got a 39-demerit "C" grade on Jan. 5.

Manager Jenys Pena says it was, "Because we have a lot of things about the maintenance. Not about the food or anything. Just the maintenance. And we're working hard on that because it's some lights, some leaking, some small things. But we need to do better every time."

Those small maintenance violations quickly added up. Things like broken bulbs in the heat lamp, improperly stocked handsinks and missing labels.

Critical violations involved water that wasn't hot enough and food in the temperature danger zone.

Major violations included raw chicken stored over raw pork, unlabeled chemical bottles and no sanitizer in the sanitizer bucket.

Miguel, who's retired but has been working at Havana Express to help his friend through a tough time, says he was surprised by all the violations.

"I was! I was because we try to keep everything very clean and very documented. And I am so sorry that that happened."

Food wasn't properly cooled and wasn't being monitored for safe temperatures. Because of that, uncovered pork in the fridge had to be thrown out.

Other food in the temperature danger zone included fried potatoes that were sitting under the heat lamp and pork in the steam table.

"The business was very slow, so we had to let go some people and shorten the hours, so we were working with a skeleton crew and sometimes that happens. But everything is corrected by now and we're back to everything is how it's supposed to be," Miguel said.

Other violations included a spoon handle touching ready-to-eat rice, containers that held chemicals being re-used for food in the bakery area, and a food handler eating at a prep table next to open food being prepped for customers.

"It's very important for everyone to know that we are doing our best to keep everything the way it's supposed to be and please come back!" Miguel urged, saying that business hasn't bounced back.

"Still slow. But at least we're open and with the crew that we have, we're doing everything that we're supposed to do."

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All five closures this week have one thing in common: water that wasn't hot enough.

That's a biggie for the Health District as it's considered an imminent health hazard.

La Mojarra Loca is a familiar name on Dirty Dining.

The repeat offender's Lamb and Washington location was shut down on Jan. 5 for no hot water. It also got 31 demerits.

The person in charge handled fruits, vegetables and tortillas with bare hands. All of it had to be thrown out.

The inspector discovered a piece of black plastic in a pan of vegetables.

And in-use utensils sat in dirty, lukewarm water.

The person in charge said the violations were not that serious, they fixed everything and were back in business the next day with a zero-demerit "A" grade.

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Mimosas Gourmet on Durango and Desert Inn is now a three-time Dirty Dining repeat offender.

Its bar was shut down on Jan. 6 due to no hot water.

We reached the person in charge on the phone and she said they had no comment and immediately hung up.

It was back to a zero-demerit "A" grade on Jan. 7.

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Green Crush juice bar at Fashion Show Mall had its refrigerated storage area shut down on Jan. 4 for inadequate refrigeration. It also got 21 demerits.

The only cooler was holding at 65 degrees and was red-tagged.

Inspectors found six large boxes of moldy strawberries that were thrown out during the inspection, as were multiple large boxes of bagged milk which were at dangerously unsafe temperatures.

The juice bar itself got an "A" grade during a separate inspection the same day.

A partner in the business said the issue was in their newly-opened back-up storage area. She said sometimes too much product gets delivered and the juice bar wouldn't use it if it were not fresh.

They are anticipating re-inspection this week.

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Samuels and Son Seafood Company West Coast on Wigwam and Jones saw its processing area closed on Jan. 5 due to the imminent health hazard of no hot water.

Owner Sam D'Angelo says they mostly process seafood for sale to restaurants and called the problem "not really a big deal." He said it was an electrical short in the hot water heater and the fact that it coincided with a health inspection was just bad luck.

He said they got it quickly fixed and have added checking the hot water temperature to their regular daily routine.

The facility was re-inspected on Jan. 5 and got a three-demerit “A” grade.

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The snack bar at Jackpot Joanie’s on Rainbow and Washington was shut down on Jan. 6 due to inadequate hot water.

Regional Manager Dave Campion said the water wasn’t at the right temperature when the inspector showed up, so they called a plumber, who arrived while the inspector was still there. The plumber found an issue in the hot water heater and said he fixed it, but the problem happened again when he left.

After ordering and installing a new part, Jackpot Joanie's was back to a zero-demerit "A" grade on Jan. 9

Click here to see the health report for Havana Express.

Click here to see the health report for Jackpot Joanie's Snack Bar.

Click here to see the health report for Mimosas Gourmet Bar.

Click here to see the health report for La Mojarra Loca Restaurant.

Click here to see the health report for Chamango Mexican Snacks.

Click here to see the health report for Chamango Mexican Snacks @ Boulevard Mall.

Click here to see the health report for Samuels and Son Seafood.

Click here to see the health report for Green Crush.