PILSEN — Popular Mexican restaurant Nuevo Leon in Pilsen had to close its doors for a day last week after city health inspectors ticketed it for multiple violations, including improperly stored food, fruit flies and live roaches.
The restaurant at 1515 W. 18th St. was closed on Thursday and allowed to reopen Friday after passing a follow-up inspection, according to data from the city's Department of Public Health.
An initial inspection was made July 24 after a claim of food poisoning, according to the city.
At that time, health inspectors found raw pieces of beef on lettuce and in a box of tomatoes, an employee who wiped his "face, nose then immediately went on to handle ready to eat tortillas" and food being stored at improper temperatures, according to the city.
Chloe Riley says the manager was very open while discussing the issue:
At that time, more than $600 of food was voluntarily thrown out by management.
At a follow-up inspection on Thursday, the inspectors noted 30 live roaches throughout the three-story building, including "beneath the steam table service area ... [and] on the ceiling crawling on lights in [the] main prep area," with another four roaches spotted behind the refrigerator in the kitchen areas near the tortilla grill, according to the city.
After that, the restaurant was closed down until Friday. The building was fumigated, and a third inspector declared the violations corrected.
Leon manager Daniel Gutierrez Jr. said management was aware of a roach problem in the building, but said the staff was "naive" to think it wouldn't affect the first-floor restaurant.
As for the other violations, Gutierrez — whose family owns Leon — said it's complicated. The restaurant doesn't own a freezer because they rarely have food sitting for more than a day, he said.
And Gutierrez said that while his staff does need updated training, city health inspectors also have gotten stricter. For instance, the food that was thrown out was only 2 degrees above its required temperature, which the Leon manager said is pretty minor.
"We're not in the business to get people sick," Gutierrez said. "This is a legacy that my father and grandfather left, and by no means do I want to let them down."
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