Blue Fish Restaurant: Hazardous to your health???

When the DMN wanted to interview scumbar owners about the City's new crackdown on phony bars, they were harder to find than a legitimate restaurant CO on Lower Greenville.

Owners of several restaurants likely to be targeted by the audits declined to comment Tuesday, saying they feared retribution. Others along the entertainment strip called the audits unfair and said they're yet another example of the city punishing Greenville Avenue establishments.

So the reporter turned to legit operations on the other end of Lower Greenvile for opinions. That included the folks at St Martins (who used BD's favorite phrase about Lower Greenville - level the playing field); WFAA interviewed the folks at Hurricane Bar and Grill.

In the DMN story, the owner of Blue Fish Lower Greenville complained

The audits will be "a tremendous inconvenience," she said. "A lot of businesses are hurting in this area. It's just another pain, another hurdle for restaurant owners."

Excuse me???

The owner of every single restaurant in Dallas that serves alcoholic beverages signs an affidavit when they get their CO, wherein they promise to give up their sales numbers on demand, or at least every three months (City Code 51A-1.104 – Certificate of Occupancy, Article 1 – General Provisions / Paragraph 4, subsection 4).

The law's been on the books for years, but the City never bothered asking.

This crappy attitude is not a surprise for Blue Fish. Nearly two years ago, they were shut down by the City's Health Department for failing an inspection after a customer became violently ill after eating there. It took more than a week - and two inspections - before the City let them open up for business again.

According to the inspector's report (click here to see original report), obtained by BD within a week of the closing (see story - You want wasabi with those flies?).

The incident started with a Service Request filed on November 16. Someone (name not included on report) called to complain they took ill after eating an early dinner (4:30 pm) on November 5th. The caller worked at Parkland and admitted herself/himself to the emergency room. The description continues:

    Sushi in rolls, yellow tail salmon, coke. Symptoms nausea, vomit, fever/chills, headache. Works at Parkland, went to ER

On November 18, an inspector visited the restaurant and spoke to a manager (John), who was not aware of the complaint .

The Notice of Violation continues –

    Employees hands were checked and all in compliance. Handsinks properly stocked except near dishwasher – no towels.

    Yellow tail temp on display prepline ranged between 40.2 F – 50.5 F; salmon 40.6 F to 51.3 F. Fish found in danger zone was voluntarily destroyed.

    Wet towels on prep tables showed no chlorine residual and were being used to wipe hands / utensils.

    These practices may have contributed to food-borne illnesses.

    Maintain all PHF cold at 41 F or below.

    Store wet towels properly and wash hands often.

    Provide soap/paper towels at all handsinks

The restaurant was inspected and received an 80 based on these and other issues. Four points were taken off for evidence of insects / rodents and a citation was issued immediately.

The restaurant was ordered to close due to a fruit-fly infestation and not re-open until the place was cleaned up and re-inspected by the City...

The next day, a City inspector came back to assess the fruit fly issue and how the restaurant had made corrections to the faults found in the previous day’s inspection.

It was not getting any better -

    Number of active fruit flies has been reduced significantly with approximately 5-10 live flies.

    Exterior equipment remains unclean to sight and touch, and needs further cleaning. Manager on site having all staff participate in cleaning (20 – 25).

    During cleaning of floor behind R/C, roach pocket discovered between loose cove moldings and wall. Roach infestation must be treated and repairs made.

    Establishment to remain closed until further notice.

    1 – Eliminate infestations – roach/fruit flies

    2 – Repair damaged walls, floors, eliminate standing water and clean

    3 – Repair / cover any / all exposed wood; raise all equipment six inches

    4 – Keep equipment pulled out from walls, easy cleaning, view

    5 – No food preparation in any capacity to be done

    6 – All surfaces and utensils must be cleaned/sanitized before next inspection

It was three more days before the restaurant was allowed to open on November 22, 2004.

The funniest part of this incident - if there was anything funny - was how the restaurant's manager reacted to BD taking photos of the building for his story. He demanded that BD give up his digital camera so that we could not publish photos of him acting like a fool yelling at BD. From the original story (link)

The conversation went something like this -

    Manager: Why are you taking pictures?

    BD: I don’t have to explain anything to you.

    Manager: You bring that camera back to me.

    BD: You cannot have my camera.

    Manager: I want you to give me that camera

    BD: If you want this camera, you come over and try to take it from me(imagine Rocky yelling while standing on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, and you get the idea of what BD sounded like).

BD posted an email to his subscriber list last evening about the Blue Fish issue, and within a few hours had another horror story to report. The writer is a Dallas attorney, but we are keeping her name confidential...

In September, my girlfriends took me to dinner for my 37th birthday! Unfortunately, my birthday celebration was ruined because I became violently ill at Blue Fish about 45 minutes after eating "cooked" rolls at their restaurant. My friends and I were soooooo puzzled as to why I became so sick...

At the time, I wished that I could blame it on a couple of glasses of wine, but I knew better!!! Thanks to you ...our questions are answered...We will never wine and dine at Blue Fish again. Many thanks for always informing us via e-mail about lower Greenville.

Your e-mails are very insightful, whether you are saving us from food poisoning or gun you have informed us that Blue Fish could care less about it's customers, neighborhood, and it's own restaurant integrity. All in all, we now know we should spend our money and eat Sushi elsewhere.

Thanks so much for the time and energy you devote to educating our community!!!

According to the Dallas Food Inspection Score website, Blue Fish botched another inspection in June 2006, getting a C/77 - Passing, Reinspect Within 30 days.

It's clear that Blue Fish Lower Greenville regards proper food service conditions as a tremendous inconvenience, just another pain, another hurdle for restaurant owners.

BD says - Avoid a tremendous inconvenience, another pain, and a bunch of hurdles on the way to the hospital. Don't eat at Blue Fish!

By Avi S. Adelman under Public safety , Lower Greenville