Dirty Dining: Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The restaurant featured this week is a prime example of why we call this segment "Dirty Dining."
And as the owner told Chief Investigator Darcy Spears, most of the problems boil down to employee negligence.
The pictures make it hard to tell when the kitchen was last cleaned at Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant on Convention Center Drive.
How would you like to eat food cooked in pots and pans covered in "extreme black debris build-up," making them "impossible to clean?"
"Did you throw those away?" Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears asked Meskerem Owner Tesfaye Armide.
"We throw them away. We just bought new ones. We're just fine now," he explained.
Darcy: Why would they have gotten into that condition?
Tesfaye: Because of the employees.
Darcy: Employees not cleaning them properly?
Tesfaye: Yes. That's what happened.
And that's just part of what led inspectors to shut the place down with 53 demerits.
They also found shelves, counters, gaskets, and refrigerator and drawer handles were dirty and caked with dried food debris.
Darcy: How did things get like that?
Tesfaye: It was clean. I mean, most of it was clean. Just a matter of time, things get dirty a little bit but not really.
Inspectors also found containers of meat, rice and bean sauce that had been sitting around for two weeks. The owner says the labels were old, not the food.
Lots of stuff had to be thrown out because it was at unsafe temperatures.
There was no sanitizer in the bucket where the cleaning rag was stored. And they were storing dirty mop water in the food area.
Darcy: They said there was an incense burner next to food in the kitchen. That's not super sanitary.
Tesfaye: Yeah, that happened. But that's due to negligence of the employees.
The can opener had dried food debris on it and inspectors say cutting boards and the knife rack also had excessive build-up.
"For them it looks like that but most of the stuff is clean," says Armide. He says it's a matter of opinion and he disagrees with inspectors' assessment about the general cleanliness of the place.
We all know how important it is for employees to wash their hands after going to the bathroom. But it's hard to do that properly when there's no soap in the employee restroom, which is what inspectors found.
"The soap was there, believe me," Armide said. "If you don't pump it well sometimes it dries a little bit."
The soap is back now, as is Meskerem's "A" grade after re-inspection.