Reservations Recommended

Dirty dishes. Spoiled food. Cockroaches roaming the kitchen. At some local restaurants the proof is in the pudding -- literally.

Franklin runs his finger along the meat and vegetable slicer, which is caked with food residue. As he turns to talk to the food-prep cook about the importance of sanitizing the slicer between uses, another roach scampers across the counter. "He came out to greet you!" the Jamaican food-prep worker jokes. This time Franklin scribbles down the violation, still fretting that he hasn't seen actual proof of cockroach infestation.

By the time the inspection ends three hours later, Franklin has amassed four pages of violations. He sits down with the restaurant's manager and goes over them one by one. Another inspector might have taken the opportunity to make threats of an immediate reinspection, a "notice to show cause," and a fine. But Franklin knows what it's like to run a restaurant. Before he became an inspector, he spent ten years as the owner of Drumsticks, a fast food joint near Miami Central High School in Liberty City.

After leaving the manager with a gentle warning to get his place in shape by mid-September, Franklin takes a moment to reminisce. "When I was on the other side, oh my God, some of the inspectors had no sense of public relations," he laughs. Today he doesn't believe in bullying restaurant owners; he wants to educate them. "We're not out there like a police force to hammer you over the head," he says. "We're going to give you a chance to comply."

Franklin pauses and considers the the state of the restaurant he's just inspected: "It's just neglect, and nobody ever died from that. But it's the beginning of trouble.

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