Dirty Dining: Repeat offender gets highest fines in Marion County

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. –  Some restaurants in town continue racking up violations from the Marion County Health Department. The FOX59 dirty dining team is digging into records and exposing repeat offenders.

Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet got the highest fines, according to records released from March to June 2016. The most recent issues come just months after we revealed this was one of the most fined restaurants in 2015.

On March 1, an inspector found things like floors, walls and ceilings in a walk-in cooler soiled with a “mold-like substance.” Stacked ‘clean’ plates by the buffet had food debris on them and ants were seen crawling on the floor next to the hibachi grill. The inspector also noted the chef was making sushi with his bare hands.

The inspector returned to Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet four times until no violations were found on April 11. But, critical violations were discovered again in May.

FOX59 stopped by the restaurant and asked to speak to the manager regarding 14 critical health code violations issued in March. A host said the manager was on vacation. We asked the host if he was concerned about the high number of violations.

“Still going to have customers coming and everything,” he said. “A guy not wearing gloves is not a big deal. People are still going to eat it.”

We sent a member of our team into the restaurant wearing our hidden camera. The video shows dirty plates and silverware. The undercover diner also spotted servers eating while on the job.

Previously, health inspectors reported finding mouse droppings and the kitchen ‘infested with gnats and flies.’ Another report reveals a food handler was seen spitting on the floor.

“It’s disappointing,” said Janelle Kauffman, an administrator of Department of Food and Consumer Safety. “All these people are responsible for food safety, especially in a buffet situation.”

The Health Department has the ability to revoke a restaurant’s license. But, Kauffman says they prefer to work with a business before going to that extreme.

“Our inspectors went there for a full day, spending time with them, going over their procedures, trying to make sure they were serving safe food,” Kauffman said. “Doing our extra part to make sure they were following proper sanitation.”

If devoting additional resources to this problem spot does not work, more serious action could follow.

“We can restrict amount of food they’re doing if they can’t keep up with capacity,” Kauffman said.

After several attempts to reach the manager, FOX59 was able to speak to him over the weekend. He said he is working hard to make things better and wants to keep his business going. A newly published inspection report shows they had three more critical violations on July 5.