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.
Click here for the restaurant's full inspection history.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.