LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Crabs, eels, fish, even frogs... all the fixings for a nice aquarium.
But the creatures at Quality Seafood are for sale and bound for a dinner plate.
On Sept. 26, Quality Seafood on Flamingo and Jones was packed with a line of customers spilling out into the dark.
Someone called the Health District, saying Quality was selling "veggies and live seafood from unbranded boxes transferred from a small van from California."
Inspectors arrived to find seven cases containing about 175 live frogs, cases of approximately 60 sea urchins, and other cases of squash and dragonfruit.
Owner Tommy Ren says they were unloading the van -- not selling food out of i t-- when health inspectors validated the complaint and then inspected the market's two spaces in the strip mall, resulting in a 40-demerit C grade.
One of the big issues? Using a not permitted, unsanitary warehouse to store and prepare seafood.
The Health District told Ren he had to get a permit and full inspection for that space back in April, but says he's still failing to comply.
That not permitted area housed freezers that inspectors red-tagged containing fish that had to be thrown out.
An ice chest was being used as a holding tank for live eels.
And a prep table and ice bin were both rusty.
Plus, cutting boards, knives, tongs and other equipment was dirty with old food debris. The cutting board was so grooved it was no longer cleanable.
Ren showed us a brand new cutting board where we watched an employee prep a customer's live crab that had just been pulled from a large tank.
Other sanitation problems at Quality Seafood included: employee cell phones, nail clippers, lotions and other items stored in the food prep area, no sanitizer in the bucket or on the wiping cloth, and an excessively dirty hand sink, shelves and walls.
There were flies in the market and standing water and food debris on floors.
Also, equipment doors, handles, covers and panels were missing, dirty or broken.
Ren says they weren't using some of that equipment, but the health report says he's operated illegally in the past, noting a pattern of non-compliance.
None of that phases Tommy Ren, though. He's proud of his market's one of a kind experience.
"The shellfish right there?" he pointed out. "That's geoduck. We're the only ones who sell that."
Geoduck is a large saltwater clam that looks like it's sticking out a giant tongue.
Darcy: "You sell live frogs too?"
Tommy: "I do, but they just asked me to apply for the permit from the state."
He says when it comes to live food, "Different states have different laws. Also, different countries have different laws."
Darcy: "So no frogs for now?"
Tommy: "No, no. Whatever the Health Department says, I'll just follow the law here."
Tommy says it's been tough to find common ground with a health code meant for things that aren't alive.
"Because with the live ones, different seafood has a different temperature in their tanks."
Meaning each tank has to have its own climate control depending on what's swimming around inside. If he strictly follows the Health District's food temperature rules, many of his species will die.
And for the most part, people come here to buy their future food as fresh as possible... while it's still alive.
Quality Seafood still has a C grade. Tommy says they were supposed to be re-inspected Tuesday but the inspector called out sick so he's waiting to reschedule.
Food Mart snack bar on Horizon and College was shut down Sept. 24 after inspectors validated a complaint about no hot water -- which is an imminent health hazard.
The also found pest control spray next to open containers of ice cream and multiple crickets in the back room.
The owner said due to construction next door, their gas service was interrupted, impacting the hot water.
The snack bar was only closed for a few hours before re-opening with a 3-demerit A grade.
Pachuca Hidalgo catering is a seven-time Dirty Dining repeat offender.
Its #2 truck was shut down Sept. 23 for an imminent health hazard because there was nowhere for employees to wash their hands due to a broken sink.
Inspectors also found al pastor and chicharone at unsafe temperatures.
The truck is supposed to have a certified food protection manager at all times due to a previous Health District requirement, but it didn't comply.
Also, the cook didn't have a food handler card.
Pachuca Hidalgo was back to a zero-demerit A on Sept. 25.
The owner said they were trying to upgrade the truck but the worker hadn't finished with the sink yet. She said it's a very tough and expensive business to run and she's been let down by employees she trusted and that's really hurt her. She says she's been in business many years and doesn't deserve to be harshly judged, claiming her food is not the problem.
Sammy's Doghouse a.k.a Sammy's L.A. Pastrami on Tropicana near Eastern is a Dirty Dining repeat offender.
It was shut down Sept. 26 for failing re-inspection with repeat critical and major violations--including roaches--after the last time they were on Dirty Dining -- which was last month.
An employee cracked raw eggs then touched ready-to-eat bread without changing gloves.
There was expired food including 11-day old cooked pulled pork and chipotle chili sauce, plus 10-day old buttermilk ranch prepared in house.
Excessive water was dripping onto loosely covered food items and there was mold on the water tray and around the ice tray.
Excessive food debris contaminated box freezers and the floor.
There was also only one employee on staff, which the Health District called "Insufficient to properly maintain and operate the facility." That's another repeat violation.
The Health District website shows Sammy's is still closed and we were unable to reach anyone for comment.
Maddy's Paddys, the restaurant at Poker Palace on Las Vegas Blvd. near Cheyenne, was shut down Sept. 28 for the imminent health hazard of no hot water.
The manager said they got right on the few issues they had to address and are very pleased to have their A grade back.
It reopened with a 3-demerit A on Oct. 1.
Click here to see the health report for Quality Seafood.