LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — If there's one thing Tim Gee's got, it's soul. In his food and his music, which he skillfully plays on the restaurant's dining room piano.
But lately, the owner of M & M Soul Food sounds like a broken record as he turns away dozens of customers coming in off the busy Las Vegas strip.
Instead of cooking, staff are cleaning and caulking, preparing for re-inspection after being closed for 10 days.
"That's been very, very hard emotionally and financially as well," Gee said. "It's been tough watching people come to the doors trying to get in."
The M & M Soul Food name is making its third appearance on Dirty Dining but it's the first time for the location on Las Vegas Boulevard near Sahara Avenue.
It was shut down July 19 for gross, unsanitary conditions and repeat violations during a failed re-inspection from a previous C grade.
Inspectors also found multi-generational cockroaches in the warewashing area.
"We had a lot of construction going on on the outside," Gee explained. "A building that's like 70 years old came down and I think we accumulated some things from that."
Inspectors saw more than 20 live roaches and heavy food and grease build-up around equipment.
The good news? They didn't find any roaches in the cookline.
"It's just been all around the area and now with the grasshoppers everywhere, the whole city's like 'What's going on?'" Gee said with a laugh. "The good Lord is doing what he's doing."
M & M's location on Charleston and Valley View boulevards was shut down for cockroaches this same time last year.
Tim says when you've been in the restaurant business as long as he has, if you say you've never had a roach in your kitchen, you're lying.
"It happens to the best of us," he said.
He's gotten rid of the bugs and also a few employees whose failures contributed to the recent closure.
"Mine was realistically from the few things that employees negligently did that I was like, 'No, they're not gonna do that today!'"
He had to put up signs to reinforce the simple stuff like handwashing.
"Forgetting their little basic 101 stuff so it caused--it was a bigger problem for me as the owner. But like I say, we're ready to rock and roll again! I'm excited about being open and getting back to what I do. I'm looking forward to serving that good ol' fried chicken, catfish, chicken and waffles, oxtail, short ribs, black-eyed peas, yams and greens. All that good stuff!"
But he may not be serving it up on the Strip much longer.
He says the landlord told him his lease will not be renewed at the end of this year.
"When I came over here, I put my life savings into the place to think I was going to be here a lot longer. I thought I'd at least be here like 10 years."
He plans to re-open what he calls his mothership store at Charleston and Valley View boulevards so he can keep serving up that soul.
M & M got its A grade back on Monday.
Carlito's Cuban Food and Cafeteria on Decatur near the 95 got a 40-demerit C grade on July 17.
This is their second location to be on Dirty Dining.
They were storing onions, open bulk beans, rice and other foods in an outdoor shed which isn't pest-proof.
Inspectors found expired foods that were more than a week old including milk, sliced ham, cheese and salsa.
Beef stew, shredded pork, raw beef and beans had to be thrown out due to unsafe temperatures.
The deli slicer and metal trays were soiled with food debris and buildup.
And caulking was in severe disrepair with black mold at the 3-compartment sink.
Owner Carlos Rodriguez said the Health District is getting tougher to the point of being unfair. He cites stuff that wasn't a problem before suddenly becoming a problem now and he's working with his attorney to address that.
Carlito's still has a C grade because they're waiting to schedule a plan review before scheduling re-inspection.
El Tenampa on Eastern and Bonanza was shut down July 17 for a multi-generational cockroach infestation.
Other violations included a food handler cracking raw eggs then contaminating ready-to-eat food due to no handwashing.
A food handler also used bare hands on a burger bun.
There were uncovered buckets with raw meats stored under the hand sink and uncovered hominy and a pot with cooked meat stored on the floor.
The dish machine was not sanitizing and there were holes in walls and the ceiling.
El Tenampa was back to a zero-demerit A on July 19. No one returned our call for comment.
Tacos El Burrito Loco is a Dirty Dining repeat offender.
Inspectors were at the restaurant on Valley View near Sahara on July 18 to investigate a complaint about refrigeration not working.
The complainant said vegetables and meats had gone bad but were still being served.
The complaint was found to be valid and it was shut down for an imminent health hazard.
A ton of food in the walk-in cooler had to be tossed into the garbage.
The person in charge told us everything is good now. The restaurant was back to a zero-demerit A grade on July 23.
Click here to see the health report from M & M Soul Food.
Click here to see the health report from Carlito's Cuban Food and Cafeteria.
Click here to see the health report from El Tenampa.
Click here to see the health report from Tacos El Burrito Loco.