LAS VEGAS (NV) — The Cinco de Mayo holiday always brings tons of business to Mexican restaurants and Tres Amigos is no exception.
"We've done a lot of prep and we are prepared for everything," said Owner Fernando Reynoso.
Part of that prep involved rebounding from a 36-demerit "C" grade.
The restaurant on Windmill Lane and Eastern Avenue was downgraded during a routine inspection on April 19.
"It's a shame to be one of the worst 'C' restaurants in Las Vegas because we're working--I've been working so hard to keep everything nice and clean," Reynoso said.
Being dirty wasn't the main issue at Tres Amigos.
Its most serious violations were for food at unsafe temperatures.
"It was something with the fridge. We were having a little issue with the temperature but it's already been fixed," Reynoso explained.
Three of the restaurant’s four thermometers were broken and providing inaccurate food temperature readings. And when it comes to food safety, every degree matters.
Food in the temperature danger zone included chicken, carne asada, pork and salsa. All of it went into the garbage.
Now, Reynoso says, "We've got everything tracked. Everybody is checking like every two hours to make sure we've got the right temperature, especially right now with the heat."
Inspectors also found containers of salsa, beans and pork that were stored uncovered and subject to possible contamination.
Raw beef was stored over a large container of onions and bell peppers.
An employee's open drink sat on a prep table.
Plus, inspectors said carnitas and cooked pork in the cooler were expired and had to be thrown out.
"So, what happened is like, you normally have seven days," said Reynoso.
The health report says the cooked pork had been in the cooler for eight days and the carnitas were nine days old.
"I already talked to my chef. Everything is being tracked and nothing can be kept now for more than three days," Reynoso explained, which would make Tres Amigos' policy more strict than the Health District's rules.
Other violations included water pooling behind the stove and under equipment in the kitchen, and ceviche, beans and chicken that did not have date labels.
"One of my employees didn't follow the rules to the letter and that's pretty much what happened," said Reynoso.
Like other restaurants, he explained how Tres Amigos has had a hard time re-building staff and getting people to come back to work.
On top of that, as food prices keep rising, "We're struggling with, you know, the meat is crazy, chicken is crazy but all the same, we try to have everything good for the public, to make sure we get everything right."
Another financial hit--the Health District is no longer waiving downgrade and closure fees like the agency was doing during the height of the pandemic so, restaurants are back to paying a pretty penny for their mistakes.
Tres Amigos’ "C" grade cost Reynoso $1200.
"I think that's a little too crazy, but I understand. I understand that's the way it works."
And he apologizes for the violations.
"It's not acceptable but we already got back to an "A" grade.
When they got their "A" back on April 28, it came with zero demerits.
There are no imminent health hazard closures in this week's Dirty Dining.
Click here to see the health report for Tres Amigos Restaurant.