Bayside Marketplace: Rodent Droppings, Live Roaches Abound; Eight Restaurants In South Pavilion Penalized

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Along with beautiful views and myriad dining choices, Bayside Marketplace also apparently features a plethora of rodent droppings and live roaches.Of 10 restaurants cited during a random health inspection May 10, eight are in the South Pavilion of one of Miami's most popular and successful shopping malls.

"The safety and well-being of our visitors are of paramount importance to us," said Bayside marketing director Marie Balbuena in a statement. "Food vendors, whether at a mall or elsewhere, have a responsibility to operate under the highest of health and safety standards. Any time a violation or infraction is discovered, food vendors are required to take immediate corrective action. We support and cooperate fully with all health department inspections of food vendors."

Lombardi's Ristorante, The Knife, Latin American Cafeteria, Mambo Cafe, Kelly's Cajun Grill. Brawy Seafood, Mozzarella Grill and Che Pasta were all cited by state health inspectors and had their doors closed. All eight were allowed to reopen the next day, May 11, after cleaning and a subsequent re-inspection.

All eight had either live roaches or dry and fresh rodent droppings in common. Mambo Cafe had the largest number of critical violations (8), including potentially hazardous food prepared on site, held more than 24 hours and not properly date-marked. (The violations were first reported by the Sun Sentinel.) In addition, raw animal food was stored above ready-to-eat food and a slicer had soiled, crusted material on it. A manager hung the phone up on us when asked to comment on the violations.

Latin American Cafe was a close second with seven violations, including soiled cooler gaskets, an improper hand wash sink and 20 live roaches found in the kitchen area. A manager declined to comment when confronted.

Other violations observed include employees engaging in food preparation without washing their hands first (The Knife) and uncovered food and food stored on the floor in the dry storage area.

Mozzarella Grill had the fewest violations (2), though there were dry rodent droppings at a front counter where food is prepared. Owner Ricardo Vegas pointed out that the entire complex uses the same pesticide company, which is chosen by Bayside management. Employees who declined to give their names, pointed out the location's proximity to the bay and its open floor as reasons for the violations.

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