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Health Department Roundup: Middle School Bathrooms, An Old-School Burger Joint and More

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Sometimes we get the suspicion that the city's health inspectors phone in certain check-ups. We can't blame them - it has to be a difficult job, and they've got a lot of ground to cover. But we're looking at the last week's reports, and despite what this one says, there is no way the bathrooms at Grady Middle School are clean.

It's nothing against Grady (5215 San Felipe). We worked there as a substitute teacher a few years back and remember the administration at the time being above par. But in the same way that certain old houses always seem dusty, middle school bathrooms are never not disgusting. When the inspector visited, he or she ostensibly checked out both the boys' and the girls' bathrooms. From first-hand experience, we can tell you the boys' room is going to be bad. But the girls' room? Just ask a female middle school teacher. It's our understanding these kinds of facilities are in a constant state of distress. Imagine putting a couple of roughnecks under general anesthesia, waking them up and immediately forcing them to knife-fight until one of them bleeds out. The victor wins the privilege of pissing on the floor. It's a little like that. So you can't judge an inspector for standing outside the doors and checking the "clean" box instead of facing whatever demons waited on the other side.

The kitchen at Grady, by the way, got two violations: at least one sink without hand-drying devices, and a sink without hand-cleaning soap.

Back to restaurants. Napoli (5551 Richmond) was issued a citation and temporarily closed, but it looks like a paperwork issue. An inspector turned up three cleanliness violations: failure to provide water at 110 degrees Fahrenheit, openings to outdoors not protected against the entrance of pests (corrected on site), and no shielding on artificial lights. The inspector also wrote Napoli up for no Food Service Manager's Certification and "person in charge of the food establishment...not in full compliance with Article II."

Burger Park (6704 MLK Jr.), the old-school outpost Katharine Shilcutt wrote about here (which got her cited in South Park's Wikipedia entry here), had a good inspection. A health official found just one violation, "container of food not stored in a manner that protects food from splash and other contamination," and that was corrected on site.

Tapatia (5710 Bellaire) didn't fare as well. An inspector cited the restaurant after a routine inspection turned up seven violations, including food employee not wearing effective hair restraint; ice machine not set up in a way that prevents contamination; dirty non-food-contact surfaces; hand-washing facilities not kept clean or in good repair; and improper materials used as storage shelves.

Finally, La Reyna (6275 Bissonnet) also earned a citation after an inspector followed up on a complaint and found five violations. Issues included potentially hazardous food held at improper temperatures (repeat violation); hand-washing facilities not kept clean or in good repair (repeat); toilet room not provided with at least one covered waste receptacle (repeat); and poorly designed or maintained equipment or utensils.


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