Of the many cultural artifacts one would think to find at Versailles perched in the heart of Little Havana --ventanitas
, a strong disdain for Fidel Castro -- mold growing in the ice machine wouldn't likely be one of them.
But that, according to a safety report late last month, is just what you would have found recently in one of the most iconic restaurants in the city. And 51 other problems.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation slapped the landmark establishment with a staggering 52 safety violations on January 21, a trove of citations that ranged from petty to grand. Three of them were deemed "high priority" -- food stored at the wrong temperature, food-smeared surfaces, fetid cleaning clothing. And, yep, mold.
According to statistics compiled by Florida's Division of Hotels and Restaurants, five of the citations were deemed "critical." Two of them fell under the category of "dish-washing facilities," and three more were designated as "plumbing installed and maintained."
Here's a sampling of the Versailles citations:
Over the last few months, these statistics show, the restaurant has taken a nosedive in cleanliness. On April 9 of last year, the restaurant was only cited for three violations. By that September, the figure had climbed to 12. Then in January -- over the period of four months -- the number of citations skyrocketed to 52.
Management tells NBC Miami the restaurant has undergone recent "improvements in its kitchen operations" which have turned things a little topsy turvey.
"For more than four decades, the health and well-being of our customers has always been a priority for our restaurant. The recent violations are uncharacteristic and were due to ongoing improvements in kitchen operations," Versailles Restaurant said in a statement obtained by NBC. "We were notified of these and have addressed them immediately. Our family is committed to continuing to provide quality food and great dining experience to our customers."
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There were so many violations -- and some were so severe -- that inspectors returned to the restaurant the next day on January 22 for another look.
That time, they only found 20 violations.