Stanislaus County health inspectors closed the Teriyaki King restaurant at 1600 Hatch Road in Ceres Wednesday after yet another complaint of unsafe food preparation and storage practices.
The business was closed Thursday with no signs posted for would-be customers.
Former employee Natasha Titsworth, who goes by the name of Natasha Luangsrinhotha on Facebook, called the county Health Department this week to complain about chicken being stored outside of freezers and refrigerators in a hot kitchen. On Sept. 5 she also posted a number of photos showing a cockroach sitting on uncooked chicken and maggots crawling on a head of cabbage she said was stored in a refrigerator that wasn't working.
She posted the photos with this comment: "Teriyaki king hatch careful guys this isn't as bad as it really is also same owners as mchenry and coffee so same routine. ... that blue container right next to the chicken in the sink is degreaser. Cross contamination is always happening and those buckets are rinse(d), never soaped or scrubbed."
The Stanislaus County Department of Environmental Resources posted on its website the order to close the facility pending the correction of significant and major health and safety violations. They include:
• Egg rolls sitting on a back table with a cooked vegetable mix sitting out in temperature above 74 degrees when they should be stored at 41 degrees or lower;
• Chlorine sanitizers no chlorine concentrations in them;
• Cloth towels at the front counter and in the kitchen had no sanitizer on them in a bucket of water. Staff observed the same towels being used to wipe counters and hands;
• A covered five-gallon bucket filled with raw chicken sitting in sauce was on the floor of the kitchen where the temperature was 86 degrees.
• The walk-in refrigerator unit had an air temperature of 55 degrees when 41 degrees or lower is required. Plastic buckets of raw chicken were kept at 45 to 50 degrees. Covered metal pans with cooked beef were found at 118 degrees, far less than the minimum 155 degrees. Refrigeration unit unable to provide chilled air for rapid cooling. The county ordered the unit to be fixed.
• The walk-in freezer's condenser unit was spraying drainage water all over the packages of food inside. The floor was wet and slippery. Inspections saw the door open into the adjoining walk-in refrigerator in attempts to cool the other.
• Two employees lack food handler cards;
• The hood filters were heavily grease-soiled. There was a filter spacer missing on the filter bank allowing for inadequate exhausting of cooking vapors. The kitchen was too warm, with temperatures between 86 and 89 degrees;
• An inoperable refrigerator was stored in the kitchen and its interior smelled of mold.
• Cooked chicken found in hot holding units was recorded at 130 degrees, slightly less than the required 135 degrees. The digital thermometer was also broken.
• Numerous flies were seen in the facility.
"The owner doesn't supply the right equipment," alleged Titsworth. "The frig is down. We'll tell him and then he'll just say move everything to the freezer, which is like at frig temperature, sometimes lower, sometimes higher. And then he'll try to fix it and it doesn't work and says, ‘I can't do it today. I'll do it tomorrow.' It got so bad in the 110-degree weather where the frig was shut down completely and maggots was starting to grow in there."
She said it's a common practice to defrost the chicken overnight in buckets stored in the warm kitchen. Titsworth said that's when she snapped a photo of an insect crawling on chicken.
"The cockroaches don't leave and if they do spray, they spray with all the chicken out. The owner sprays. He doesn't have someone professionally do it."
Titsworth worked at Teriyaki King five years and was let go on Friday. She said she was fired because she didn't show up but that she didn't show because "I gave up on that place.
"Even if the employees care, the owner doesn't."
In April 2015 the same restaurant was shut down because of a cockroach infestation. The county noted that numerous live cockroaches were found throughout the building, including drywall panels, near the front counter, in the kitchen and the ware washing area. The building was remodeled to help seal out insects.
Attempts to reach the restaurant were not successful.