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DIRTY DINING: Ashtray on cooking surface at Eatopia Bistro

Posted at 10:45 PM, Aug 22, 2016

Expired food, a clueless person in charge, even an employee smoking while preparing customers' food. That, plus a decidedly unhealthy health food restaurant.

Darcy Spears has it all on Dirty Dining.

Eatopia Bistro -- an Ethiopian restaurant near Arville Street and Tropicana Avenue -- was shut down for racking up too many demerits. Forty-five of them, to be exact.

Those 45 demerits came from stuff like a dirty ashtray on a food prep surface and expired food including feta cheese and week-old almond milk. 

They were also storing a pot and food processor on stairs and on the floor next to dirty mops and dust pans. And the person in charge had no clue about what symptoms should prevent a sick employee from coming to work. 

We went to Eatopia to find the person in charge and get their side of the story.

A woman eating in the restaurant, who identified herself as a family member, tells us the person in charge is not there.

When we remind her they can't be open to the public with nobody in charge, she says they're closed and doesn't open until 2. However, the hours say 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the door.

"Yeah, the lunch time is over so they gonna open it at two o'clock," the woman said.

Which is when we're told we'll get answers. And, we do.

Manager Ahmed Ahmed meets us at the door when we return and says. "There was a different owner and then, like, we took over, bought the restaurant. And it got shut down under the other guy's name. And then, you know, we reopened it, got a A-plus and that's what happened."

But there was no A-plus.

"Well you know, A, whatever, you know, it went from a C to a A," Ahmed said.

Actually it went from closed down to an A.

Ahmed says they inherited all the problems, including the person smoking while preparing food with a dirty ashtray nearby.

"I'm not sure. That wasn't one of our workers. I'm pretty sure it was one of the other guy's -- previous worker," he said.

What about the expired food? The almond milk and the feta cheese that were old?

"Most of like, all the stuff that was here it was like still his stuff," Ahmed said.

He acknowledges that lots of little things are a big deal to the dining public: like improper handwashing, no sanitizer and uncovered food subject to contamination.

Did Ahmed figure that he would be getting a visit from Dirty Dining?

"I was really upset, yeah, I mean, I thought about it, but I didn't know y'all would show up, like, this quick, but you know, we got it taken care of so everything should be good," he said.

We've got two imminent health hazard closures to talk about. 

Nutrition Rush snack bar on Tropicana Avenue and Decatur Boulevard was shut down for failing re-inspection. 

There were multiple repeat violations including expired protein powder from February, yogurt at unsafe temperatures, malfunctioning equipment and mops draining down bathroom walls onto floors. 

Nutrition Rush management scheduled the re-inspection, but the Health District found continued non-compliance and lack of managerial control over risk factors for foodborne illness.  

The second imminent health hazard closure was the Luxor casino service bar. 

It was shut down for not having hot water. 

There was also a visibly dirty fruit press and olives stored underneath a fly trap.

Eatopia, Nutrition Rush and the Luxor service bar have all reopened with A grades.