Dirty Dining: Was your favorite place fined by the health department?

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 24, 2015) – The Marion County Health Department handed out a record number of fines in 2015, and FOX59 obtained the full list. In total, inspectors handed out $67,000 with two months of the year left to go.

You’re used to seeing us dig up critical violations on Dirty Dining, but fines are the next, more serious level for inspectors. They’re typically handed out for issues so bad they could shut down a restaurant or for repeat violations, in order to give places an extra push to clean up.

“You have to think about, what are they doing when we’re not (there)?” Marion County Health Administrator Janelle Kaufman said.

Kaufman’s inspectors gave out fines to 255 different establishments, with a quarter of those being fined more than once in 2015.

We calculated the top five worst offenders:

#5. Carniceria Guanajuato at 1269 Oliver Avenue- fined $1,350 this year.

  • Among the reasons: Live cockroaches, “an excessive amount of flies” and even maggots, according to an inspection report. That inspector told the manager to “go room by room and complete a deep cleaning.” When we showed up at the store, we were told to visit another store, where we were unable to talk to the owner. We never received a response to the violations but the store did pass its latest inspection.

#4. Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet at 7737 Shelby Street- given two big fines of $700 and $750.

  • An inspector found mouse droppings on one visit and the kitchen “infested with gnats and flies” on another. They also saw employees handling ready-to-eat food with bare hands. We made multiple attempts to find the manager listed in inspection reports but were never able to talk to him. When we showed up at the restaurant, an employee told us he was not working and we never heard back from him.

#3. Family Dollar at 1836 East 10th St- fined $1,600 after months of non-compliance.

  • This may surprise you, but inspectors check out any establishment that sells food which could potentially make you sick, including grocery stores.
  • An inspector noted “rodent droppings found in the candy and pet food aisles” and said “the bagged candy has chew marks,” in one report. Fines also came from trash that was not cleaned up. See below for statement from the store's corporate spokesperson.

#2. Steak ‘n Shake at 3810 West Washington Street- fined $1,650 for repeat violations.

  • The rest of the company’s Marion County locations passed inspection but at this restaurant, a $50 fine in June led to even more problems, resulting in subsequent fines that added up over time. Violations included a soiled shake machine and milk dispenser, “no proper handwashing occurring in kitchen” and a cooler that wasn’t keeping food cold enough for weeks.

Steak ‘n Shake told us it replaced management at the store and even the higher-level managers that oversee that location. Those managers met personally with the health department and the store passed its last inspection.

#1. Family Dollar at 3419 English Avenue- fined $2,250 total.

  • Fined for the same violations that inspectors kept coming back for time and time again. Those violations included trash that was not picked up, soiled surfaces and inadequate lighting.

In a statement, Family Dollar corporate addressed violations at this and its 10th Street store (#3 on the list):

“First, please know that the safety and security of our associates and customers is our first priority, and we take situations like this very seriously.

The violations ... date back to March 2015, and all have been rectified. We have not experienced additional issues in these stores since that time.

Family Dollar has made several changes to both of these stores to ensure they are safe and clean for our customers and associates. These changes include: adding rodent barriers and traps and increasing the frequency of visits from an area pest-control company at our store on East 10th Street.
We continue to work to address the dumpster issues at this location as various methods of corralling the garbage have not deterred trespassers. A new dumpster, designed to meet the needs of this location has been ordered, and will hopefully solve the issue.

In regards to our store, located at 3419 English Avenue, we immediately addressed the trash removal and dumpster-area issues, and we have not had any issues since.”

Kaufmann said fines are a last resort, but in the last few years her department has doubled the number it gives out, since so many places were being seen for repeat violations.

If you’re wondering if any of your favorite places were fined, here’s a full list of the 2015 citations.

For more information about a specific place and to see if it passed a recent inspection, look up their health inspection reports here. You can also contact the Marion County Health Department (317) 221-2222. You can also report concerns to the department at the website here.