Update: Short Order received an email from Villa Azur's First Amendment attorney, Kent Harrison Robbins, who informed us that all but one of the code violations have been "corrected and are no longer current." Then he added: "The only outstanding issue is the attendance of management and employees at a formal training program," which is scheduled for completion on Monday.
Before posting this story, Short Order called Villa Azur's PR firm, the Patton Group, three times. We had been awaiting comment until the arrival of the letter, which is printed in its entirety at the end of this post.
Villa Azur, the ultra-trendy, über-French-Mediterranean restaurant co-owned by Halle Berry's celebrity fiancé Olivier Martinez and partners Jean-Philippe Bernard and Michael Martin, was hit with 20 code violations during a routine health department inspection.
- Best of Miami 2012: Best Service, Villa Azur
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation conducted the inspection November 16 and found 20 violations, including 13 critical infractions that require immediate action and a follow-up visit. Though some of the findings are icky, according to the state, "Violations require further review but are not an immediate threat to the public." The critical violations found include:
- Nonexempt fish has not undergone proper parasite destruction. Fish must be served cooked or discarded. RED TUNA USED FOR TATAR [sic] DISHES.
- Observed potentially hazardous food thawed in standing water. FOOD THAWED AT [sic] STANDING WATER.
- Observed raw animal foods not properly separated from each other in holding unit/during preparation (Corrected On Site.)
- Observed raw animal food stored over ready-to-eat food. QUAIL EGGS NEXT TO READY TO EAT CHEESE, HAM. (OVERLAPPING).
- Observed food stored on floor. STORAGE ROOM.
- Observed bare hand contact of ready-to-eat food by employees and establishment has no approved Alternative Operating Procedure in effect. MACAROONS BEING HANDLED WITHOUT GLOVES.
- Observed employee handling soiled equipment or utensils then engage in food preparation, handle clean equipment or utensils, or touch unwrapped single-service items, without washing hands. DISHWASHER EMPLOYEE BLOCKED ACCESS TO HANDWASH SINK. PERSONAL ITEMS.
- Observed employee engage in food preparation, handle clean equipment or utensils, or touch unwrapped single-service items, without washing hands. DISHWASHER EMPLOYEE.
- Lack of use of chemical test kit when using chemical sanitizer at three-compartment sink/warewashing machine.
- Observed buildup of slime on soda dispensing nozzles. SPRAY SODA GUN.
- Observed handwash sink used for purposes other than handwashing. DISHWASHER PERSON STORING PERSONAL ITEMS OVER HANDWASH SINK.
- No currently certified food service manager on duty with four or more employees engaged in food preparation. (Corrected On Site.)
- No proof of required employee training provided. This violation must be corrected by 01/16/2013.
According to E! Online, Martinez was involved in a fight over Thanksgiving with Halle Berry's former fiancé, Gabriel Aubry. Aubry was taken to the hospital before being transferred to the Los Angeles Metro Detention Center on misdemeanor battery charges. Martinez was not charged.
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This is the text of the letter we received from the restaurant's attorney:
I am the First Amendment attorney for Villa Azur. In other words, I am reviewing media stories for defamatory content.
The matters raised in the 11/16/2012 notice from the Division of Hotels are not current and your online New Times article has inaccurate information as it implies that the allegations contained in the notice are ongoing problems at Villa Azur. They are not current and your publication has placed and continues to place Villa Azur in a false light. By not clarifying that the violations, to the extent that they were valid, have been corrected and no longer current, renders the publication defamatory per se.
As a courtesy to you and in expectation that you will promptly correct the online story and advise your followers by twitter, you should be aware that immediately upon receipt of the notice from the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, senior management from the restaurant arrived on the premises and supervised resolution of all the issues before the restaurant opened up on that evening on 11/16/2012.
The only pending matter is the attendance of the management and employees at a formal training program. This is scheduled for completion on Monday.
If there are any further questions concerning this matter, please feel free to contact me.
A letter will follow if the correction is not made.
Kent Harrison Robbins
Attorney at Law
1224 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139