EDITOR’S NOTE: The Washington County News regularly publishes restaurant closures, health and safety violations.
PANAMA CITY — Citing possible safety hazards from a roof leaking onto uncovered food to live roaches in the kitchen, health inspectors in the past month temporarily closed three area restaurants, according to health inspection reports.
In April, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR) issued emergency closures for Javier’s Mexican Grill, 1414 Main St., Chipley; Shipwreck Raw Bar, 7008 U.S. 98, Port St. Joe; and Ruby Tuesday, 2171 Post Oak Road, Marianna. Sanitation and safety specialists reported finding conditions that could contribute directly to a food-borne illness or injury at the time of their respective inspections. All three corrected the health concerns before a follow-up inspection and were allowed to reopen, state inspectors reported.
The three temporary closures were clustered around the turn of the month. Most recently, Javier’s Mexican Grill was issued an emergency closure about 3 p.m. April 4 after inspectors reported discovering food — including raw meats — being kept at potentially hazardous temperatures and in close proximity to foods that could be contaminated. Inspectors also reported finding two flying insects near food preparation and storage areas and several live roaches behind a dish machine, on the back side of a reach-in cooler, on the cook line and on a food preparation table.
A representative from Javier’s did not respond to a request for comment.
DBPR reported that when they returned the following day inspectors found 35 roaches under a table connected to the dish machine. Later that day, though, Javier’s corrected the issue and was allowed to reopen, inspectors reported.
A day earlier, inspectors temporarily closed the Ruby Tuesday about 6 p.m. after they discovered a leak in the roof at the bar area was splashing onto food and food containers inside an open top cooler. A “stop sale” also was issued on the contaminated foods, inspectors reported.
Management declined to comment on the closure, deferring to the corporate headquarters in Tennessee. A representative from the main office could not be reached for comment.
Ruby Tuesday was allowed to reopen the following day after correcting the issue. It was the first of its kind for the business, according to DBPR reports.
At March’s end, inspectors temporarily closed Shipwreck Raw Bar about 6 p.m. after inspectors discovered about 50 live roaches behind a reach-in-cooler on the cook line, officials reported.
Tony Whitfield, owner of Shipwreck, said the timing of the inspection coincided with a couple of inopportune circumstances.
“It’s pretty cut and dry: we got a new piece of equipment and our exterminator didn’t do a good job on it,” he said. “We got it out of here and cleaned it up. Since then, we’ve fired the exterminator, gotten another and haven’t had an issue since.”
Whitfield said the insects were attracted by a cold prep table, which typically leaks water, and he volunteered to close immediately to correct the issue. Shipwreck was allowed to reopen after a follow-up inspection the next morning. It was the first time in two years the restaurant has been open that they have had an issue.