Health Department Roundup: Single-Service Edition


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Usually the Roundup shines its light on the misdeeds of full-service restaurants, but this time out we reconnoiter the single-service foodscape. These are generally not sit-down restaurants but cheaper grab-n-gos where you aren't expected to tip anyone. These establishments cannot get away with spirit-of-the-law spit polishes but must meet the same Health Department standards as so-called full-service restaurants.

The winner and grand champion of code violations -- perhaps of recorded Houston health inspection history? -- is Reliant Stadium (2 Reliant Pkwy). We lost track after counting 100 violations. While keeping in mind there are a myriad of individual food kiosks in the stadium, one still might want to think twice before purchasing food in this Oz of food equipment corrosion, employee beverage swigging, poor food storage, crusted grease deposits, prohibited carpeting in food service areas (!), and soap-free sinks. Sneak in little cans of Vienna sausages or sardines with you. You know, camping food that won't get squashed in your bag. Okay, the risks within the stadium might be the better option.

Mia Pizza (12579 Richmond Ave.) racked up six citations this week, including using utensils that were visibly unclean, dirty vent covers, food storage in unlabeled containers and employees with exposed body hair while cooking. Mama mia!

Timmy Chans (206 W. Little York) uses no apostrophe in its name, but it does use cooking equipment in poor repair; stand-alone fans (they are supposed to be attached to the walls), dirty cloths for food spills, and unshielded artificial lighting. Timmy Chans has made it into the Urban Dictionary, which recommends its "rock bottom prices" and "mountains of rice and chicken."

Tommy's Hamburgers and Sandwiches lies in the northwestern crotch of the Katy Freeway and the West Loop (1201 N. Post Oak) and is not to be confused with the Original Tommy's, Tommy's Grill or Tommy's Original World Famous Hamburgers--all of which sell burgers in the far Southwestern states. Texas Tommy defied procedures prohibiting cross contamination, distributed food in unapproved dispensers, and held open foods in refrigerated storage without proper date labeling.

We end this week's Roundup with the usual suspects, the Cholesterol Trees in the Garden of Sustenance: establishments assailed in the true-horror documentary Food, Inc. as well as in government dietary studies. In short, over time, their food makes you fat and sick. McDonald's #7061 (6815 Harrisburg Blvd.) has not taken measures to dissuade rodents. Jack in the Box #3699 (1217 Wayside) stores perishables in containers with porous covers. Long John Silver's/A&W (10270 North Fwy.) has uncovered outdoor garbage receptacles. Burger King (6355 Will Clayton Pkwy.) has no hand-drying equipment near sinks. Whataburger #266 (3639 Westheimer) has not kept non-food contact surfaces clean as often as necessary. And the fast food winner -- or loser -- of the week is Kentucky Fried Chicken (611 W. Little York), with ten violations, including multi-use utensils in poor repair, unacceptable measures to prevent vermin infestation, eating utensils unprotected from contamination and uncovered garbage receptacles in an exterior area.



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