LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It's a tie this week for the dirtiest dining between two repeat offenders with both of them barely avoiding a shutdown. 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has that, plus a cockroach infestation closure in the latest Dirty Dining report.
Celebrities and accolades fill the wall of fame at Khoury's Mediterranean restaurant in the Village Square shopping center on Sahara and Fort Apache avenues.
But the restaurant is also becoming infamous on Dirty Dining as it's now a repeat offender.
Khoury's is back for a second helping on the report with a 38-demerit C grade on its Oct. 1 inspection.
"That's a lot of demerits and a tough grade to be dealing with when you're already limited in capacity. So, what was it like to get this and then rebound from it?" Darcy Spears asked Khoury's manager, Ali, who only gave her last name as an initial "T."
"Considering that a lot of the things were in the kitchen, they're hard workers back there and they've been with us for a while. So, they were able to comprehend it well and understand they've got to just fix whatever needed to be fixed," Ali said.
And they did fix what needed fixing.
On Oct. 9, Khoury's was back to a zero-demerit A grade.
"A lot of it was in the back of the house," said Ali. "There was a broken fridge."
On inspection day, a reach-in cooler was unable to hold a safe temperature, so gyro meat, cut tomatoes, stuffed grape leaves, cooked garlic spread and cut lettuce were compromised.
Much of it had to be thrown out, and that's not all the food that went into the garbage.
Multiple to-go containers of veggie and meat moussaka in the cooler that was more than seven days old also had to be thrown out.
Other violations included improper handwashing, improper food storage and a floor dirty with old food.
Old wine bottles were being re-used for house-made sangria and yogurt beverages, raw ground meats were being prepped next to ready to eat jalapeno sauce, and there was no designated person in charge knowledgeable in food safety when the inspector arrived.
"It's upsetting because people love our food," said Ali. "We're like the best Lebanese restaurant in town. And things like this will happen, you know? It's unfortunate that it did happen, but we're hard workers here and we don't want to discourage anyone (from coming to) eat here because, you know, things happen. And I'm sorry it happened, but we will stay on top of things."
Owner Mariz Khoury added to that in a statement, writing:
"It has been a hard six months for us with the coronavirus. We have implemented all of the governor's recommendations. We initially switched to To-Go orders in order to keep the staff working without having to lay anyone off. Now that we are open for dine-in, our seating is six feet apart and everyone is required to wear a mask when they enter the restaurant. Even though we are allowed 50-percent capacity, we are doing less than that to keep the tables six feet apart. Our employees wear masks at all times when they are working. We have many other requirements of our employees to make sure the public is safe, which includes regular sanitization of all work and high-touch areas in the restaurant. My managers and I are there every day to make sure that what we are presenting to our customers is the highest quality with the best service and safety in mind. What happened with the health department was not a normal day for us and we did have some things to fix, and we did."
Quality Seafood market on Flamingo and Jones boulevards celebrated its first Dirty Dining anniversary by becoming a repeat offender with a 38-demerit C grade on its Sept. 29 inspection.
Owner Tommy Ren says most of the issues were in their un-permitted processing area next door.
"That's the same thing that they were having issues with last year when you guys were on Dirty Dining the first time," Darcy Spears pointed out.
"I know," Ren said, "but then the coronavirus hit. Who knows what will happen to the fish here? Nobody wants to put money down at this time."
On the seafood market's Sept. 29 inspection, inspectors found a couple of odd things.
Approximately 80 containers of jarred chili paste were stored in a cooler, labeled only with a phone number, made it impossible for the health district to verify if it came from an approved source.
Twenty more jars had no labels at all.
Inspectors were told the chili paste is all for the owner's wife.
"We have one refrigerator that's only for our own food," Ren said.
"You guys like chili paste that much? Eighty containers?" Spears asked.
"We do!" Ren responded. "Because that one we're getting from far away from my friend who makes it. That is only owner food. We're not selling that."
There was also a sourcing issue with water the market is adding to its live seafood tanks.
"They said that there were large containers of ocean water from California," said Spears.
"No, it's not ocean water from California," said Ren. "I mix the water. That day I was in California. My employees, they don't know."
Ren said it was a misunderstanding due to a possible language barrier.
Inspectors took issue with the water because the market is supposed to use potable water from an approved source for the health district to ensure it's safe.
Other violations included an open container of red salted jellyfish stored on the floor at room temperature. That was thrown out. So was unidentified meat stored in plastic T-shirt bags.
Food cutting shears and knives were rusty and in need of replacement. Display shelves were rusty too.
The grade card wasn't posted, cutting boards were filthy, and the mop bucket was filled with yellow mold and a foul odor.
There was also no soap in the employee restroom and multiple flies in the facility.
When we spotted a fly during our visit, Ren pointed to the bug zapper, adding that they have to keep their doors open to keep the air inside fresh.
"We cannot keep bad air here. It would kill people. You'll get more people with coronavirus."
Due to consecutive C downgrades on routine inspections, Quality Seafood is now in the health district's administrative process and must undergo intervention training.
Ren says he just signed a new rental contract and will be remodeling and applying for a new health permit.
As for imminent health hazard closures, Mara's Crazy Fruits on Owens Avenue and Pecos Road was shut down Sept. 29 for a cockroach and ant infestation.
There were also handwashing violations, dirty shelves and dirty floors.
It reopened Oct. 3 with a zero-demerit A grade.
Mara's owner Jennifer Munoz says the inspection happened the first day she was back to work after battling COVID-19.
She'd left the family-run store with someone outside the family who she thought she could trust but says the person let her down.
She said it was a hard day on top of an even harder month and service at the business suffered in her absence.
She's still trying to recover from when the restaurant was fully closed due to state directives and is still catching up on bills.
Las Vegas Superstore on Spring Mountain and Decatur boulevards saw its produce department shut down Sept. 30 for the imminent health hazard of no hot water.
They were able to fix it and reopen with a zero-demerit A grade the same day.
The manager told health inspectors the water heater had stopped working the day before in the late afternoon, but that the management team did not at any point stop preparing food.
There was also wet food debris and paper trashing the floor.
Manager Oscar Alvarado said they worked quickly to fix it and there are no other issues.
Click here to see the health report for Khoury's Mediterranean.
Click here to see the health report for Quality Seafood.
Click here to see the health report for Maras Crazy Fruit.
Click here to see the health report for Las Vegas Superstore Produce.