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Philly cracks down on dirty dining

“Since the Joy Tsin Lau incident they’ve decided to really get tough,” said one restauranteur.

The health department last week sharply rebuked several well-known Philadelphia eateries  -- and ordered four to temporarily close -- following routine and unannounced inspections.

The Midtown II diner, Federal Donuts, Dirty Franks, Milkboy, and Godiva Chocolatier each received stinging assessments from health inspectors. Some eatery managers and owners groused that the inspectors have become unnecessarily tough.

"I think it's all baloney," said Gus Hionas, owner of the Midtown II at 122 S. 11th Street in Center City. "This place has been open 24 hours a day for 43 years. I've never poisoned anyone or made anyone sick. This is a disgrace what they're doing." (link: )

Midtown II was cited Dec. 17 for a total of 32 violations, 18 of which were noted as serious risk factors. Some food safety professionals consider having two violations as being too many. At Midtown II, serious infractions included an employee touching ready to eat food with her bare hands, encrusted food debris on kitchen equipment, severely dented canned items and improperly stored food that was being held in "danger zone" temperatures prone to breeding toxic bacteria.

"I know what needs to be done and what's not to be done," Hionas said after a reporter read him the list of violations. "It's ridiculous. Most of what they say makes no sense."

Federal Donuts, the celebrated mecca of deep-fried joy at 16th and Sansom Streets, was dinged Dec. 17 for 12 infractions. Five of the violations are technically considered serious risk factors, but most diners would question the seriousness of an employee leaving a cup on a counter or an employee "improperly drinking" from a water bottle actually could be. (link: )

Steve Cook, co-owner of the five-restaurant chicken and donut empire, said inspectors seemed to be under pressure from health department superiors to come down harder on restauranteurs.

"Since the Joy Tsin Lau incident they've decided to really get tough," Cook said, referring to the episode early this year where 100 lawyers and law students were sickened following a banquet at a Chinatown restaurant. "We're not perfect, but why are they giving us such a hard time? ( link: )

"I wish the inspections were more evenhanded, that they'd go after the real offenders," Cook said. "We both know areas you can go to and walk into the kitchen and know you'll see critical violations. I don't feel like we're the real bad guys here."

Dirty Franks, the storied watering hole on the corner of 13th and Pine, was cited Dec. 16 for seven violations, four of which are considered serious. The infractions, which included a syrup buildup on a soda dispenser and an overpowered sanitizing solution, were all corrected on-site. A manager could not immediately be reached for comment. ( )

Milkboy, the cafe/bar/music venue at 11th and Chestnut, racked up 10 violations of which seven were considered serious including food -- chicken, boiled eggs and cooked potatos - which was held between 44-47 degrees F rather than 41 degrees F or below as required. (link: )

Godiva Chocolatier, at 16th and Chestnut, received citations for seven violations. Three of them were considered foodborne risk factors and included a sanitizing solution that was too strong. not having a Health Awareness Reporting Procedure for food employees, and  a manager who was not carrying a copy of her food safety certificate.

A gourmet market, a pizzaria, a Chinese food cart and a 7-Eleven were all ordered to "cease and desist" after being cited for foodborne illness risk factors.

Green Aisle Grocery, on the 2200 block of Grays Ferry Ave., was closed Friday morning after an  inspector found "severe fly infestation" and fresh mouse droppings in the food prep area. Sanitarian Ibrahim Salami also cited the upscale grocer in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood for minor violations that included a loose faucet and "barely trickling" cold water at a food prep sink. (link: )

"We had flies in the kitchen. They're technically considered vermin," said grocery co-owner Adam Erace, who added that his weekend plans included a visit from an exterminator and a thorough cleaning of the kitchen. "So we'll close for 48 hours and reopen. It certainly sucks, but the health department has been very fair in the past and we haven't had problems before."

The 7-Eleven mini-market at 9th and Market Streets was ordered to close on Dec. 14 after an inspector could not find anyone on duty in possession of a food safety certificate. A corporate spokesperson did not return calls requesting comment.

Also temporarily shut down were Perry's Pizza on the 4200 block of Benner in the city's Tacony section and Tran's Chinese Food Truck at 55 N. 11th Street in Center City.  Both were cited for not having properly certified employees. Several phone calls place to Perry's and the owner of Tran's were not answered.

Additional eateries and cafeterias inspected last week that were cited with more than three serious violations included: (Click on eatery name for more detailed information.)


Les Petits Cherubs Cathedral

8630 RIDGE AVE 19128


Violations: 6 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 3)

Amir Alam Khan

1529 S 33RD ST 19146


Violations: 15 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 6)

Grocery / Jamonera

101 S 13TH ST 19107


Violations: 8 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 3)

Kensington High School  Annex (health and sciences)

2463 EMERALD ST 19125

Inspection Type: Inspection

Violations: 11 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 6)

Roxborough High School

6400 RIDGE AVE 19128


Violations: 7 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 4)


St. Martin's De Porres Elementary School

2300 W LEHIGH AVE 19132


Violations: 9 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 6)

Tsuki Sushi

2135 WALNUT ST 19103


Violations: 16 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 7)

Zinger Chicken and Pizza

4263 FRANKFORD AVE 19124


Violations: 10 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 8)

Zinger Chicken and Pizza



Violations: 19 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 4)

Frank Food Market

4622 FRANKFORD AVE 19124


Violations: 10 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 3)


TGI Friday's

4000 CITY AVE FLOOR 1 19131


Violations: 19 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 7)

1630 Un, Inc.

1630 W LEHIGH AVE 19132


Violations: 15 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 3)

Jocelyn Grocery II

2900 N 26TH ST 19132


Violations: 5 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 3)

Keystone Turf Club

700 PACKER AVE 19148


Violations: 11 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 4)

Original Boston Pizza

9227 FRANKFORD AVE 19114


Violations: 7 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 3)

Primo's Hoagies of Fishtown



Violations: 13 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 9)

Tiffin Bistro



Violations: 9 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 3)


Hong Kong Express

2401 N GARNET ST 19132


Violations: 12 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 3)

Oakdale Grocery LLC

1555 W OAKDALE ST 19132


Violations: 10 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 8)

Phillys Gourmet Cafe

21 S 05TH ST 19106


Violations: 13 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 5)

PS & Company

1706 LOCUST ST 19103


Violations: 13 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 5)

Argo's Childcare

460 N 02ND ST 19123.


Violations: 20 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 5)

Elegante Bar

1210 E HUNTING PARK AVE 19124.


Violations: 8 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 7)

Hatville Deli

45 N 12TH ST 19107


Violations: 5 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 3)


New Good Brother Chinese Restaurant

2768 N 24TH ST 19132.


Violations: 7 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 3)

Kurth Seafood



Violations: 13 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 5)

Corner Food Market II



Violations: 8 (Foodborne Illness Risks: 3)