LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — "I don't want to be taped." That was Sharon Harrell's initial reaction when we first met her at TC's World Famous Rib Crib. But after a few minutes, the restaurant owner warmed up to us.
"Love our customers and we love our food and we love our business. It's family-owned. I've had it for 15 years."
Her barbecue joint on Durango and Twain got a 39-demerit C grade on its May 6 inspection. That grade was on full display when the Health District was there. When we arrived... not so much. We found the grade card hidden behind a strategically placed wooden flower and alerted Harrell that it needed to be visible to the public.
On inspection day, health inspectors found multiple containers of expired buttermilk dating as far back as March.
A large sheet pan of ribs had to be thrown out due to unsafe temperatures.
Sweet potato pies and refried beans were also in the temperature danger zone.
And there was mold in the ice machine.
Darcy Spears: Did you feel like there was anything unfair about it or was it just kind of a clean-up wake-up call?
Sharon Harrell: Just clean up. Yeah.
They had quite a bit of cleaning up to do.
Inspectors found heavy dirt, grease and old food debris throughout the kitchen, especially under and behind equipment and on the hot line.
Walls, floors, ceilings and drains were in need of deep cleaning.
And there was really heavy grease build-up on hood filters and the catch pan.
"We're getting everything fixed... the grease trap... and we're getting all that fixed," Harrell said.
There was also old, dried-up food on the can opener blade, meat slicer and utensils in clean storage.
And though there were plenty of cleaning chemicals, inspectors say TC's kitchen staff was using a dry, dirty cloth to wipe down counters.
"We would never do anything to jeopardize anyone's health," Harrell said. "The problems were mostly the grease build-up on the floor and we need new tiles up on the ceiling."
Other problems included a food handler using a counterfeit health card and the chef working with an expired card.
Plus, TC's staff was storing some food on the floor.
TC's Rib Crib was hoping to be reinspected on May 22, but had to reschedule.
Owner Sharon Harrell sent an email to say, "Thank you for the opportunity to send you our A grade for your television broadcast news segment. Unfortunately, our inspection will not take place until next week. We would have loved to prove to the world that we are worthy of our good standing the same day we are making an appearance. Dirty Dining is the last media outlet that we would ever want to make an appearance on. We are not proud of our A grade being downgraded to a C. We are working diligently on repairing our mistakes and retraining new employees. We have been working tirelessly for the past 14 years to maintain in good standing for our customers and our community and I am embarrassed that I fell short."
There was one other place that tied with TC's Rib Crib for the highest demerits.
Urban Crawfish on Spring Mountain and Decatur also got a 39-demerit C grade on May 7, but it got its A grade back with zero demerits on May 9.
Inspectors found food at unsafe temperatures including sausages, cooked corn, cooked red potatoes and garlic butter. All of it was thrown out. There was also no sanitizer on wiping cloths and no person in charge when inspectors arrived.
Urban Crawfish Owner Minh Ngo said the inspection came at a time when his restaurant was very busy. He believes the inspection was unfair and says he was written up for things previously not noted as violations by past inspectors. He thinks he was under strict, undue scrutiny because the inspector was accompanied by a training officer and says he should have been able to avoid demerits for minor issues he corrected on the spot.
The full inspection report from the SNHD for TC's Rib Crib is available here.
The full inspection report from the SNHD for Urban Crawfish is available here.