Dirty Dining at Miami Police Café

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City of Miami cops want you to think they're clean. Clean arrests. Clean records. Clean city.

But if you believe the State of Florida, the place where they eat is dirty, dirty, dirty.

This past June, state inspectors cited a tiny café in police headquarters on NW Second Avenue with 23 "critical" violations. Among them: "encrusted" and "soiled" material on a slicer, no soap in the men's room, and reuse of dirty gloves.

That's not the only problem at the homey café on the third floor. In 2008, the state fined the eatery $750 for labeling cheap panga fish as grouper. And just last week, state Department of Business and Professional Regulation spokesperson Alexis Lambert said the restaurant would be sent a warning letter because it hasn't paid $22.77 of its license fee. "The Miami Police Deptartment café is listed as delinquent because its license expired on October 1," she explained.

The café is independently owned and serves 100 to 200 meals a day,

mostly to officers and state workers from a complex across the street.

Riptide sampled some French toast and a cheeseburger last week. Meals

went for about five dollars each, tasted OK, and did no harm.

The hard-working, 50-year-old kitchen veteran running the place -- who

would only give his name as Hector (and who records show is probably

company principal Hector Lopetegui) -- said the state is a pain in the

ass. The inspectors, he griped, "don't care you got proof. When the

inspectors write it down, they write it down." When problems have

cropped up, he said, they've been corrected.

None of several cops at the station was particularly enthusiastic about

the restaurant. "I try not to think about the place," said an officer

working the front desk when Riptide visited.

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