Local restaurants forced to pay up; 14 fined by state in January

Dirty kitchens are costing local restaurants. In January, the state issued more than $11,000 in fines to businesses that had repeated violations.

Customers of Benny's Ice House in Boynton Beach say the burgers keep them coming back.  State inspectors keep coming back too. They found seafood stored over the lettuce, shrimp thawing in standing water, and milk and cheese that were too warm. After four visits, the restaurant was fined more than $1,200. Our calls were not returned, so we stopped by Benny's to see if they're cleaning up.

"He said he has no comment and he is off today and not to bother him," a waitress told us about the owner, Benny.

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Another business being forced to pay up is The Late Night Bar on US 1 in Fort Pierce. The bar is under new ownership, and they're stuck cleaning up the old violations that led to a $2,400 fine.

The new owner, Jamie DiFrancesco, sent us this statement: "I have recently purchased Late Night Bar located at 7370 S. U.S. Highway 1 in Port St. Lucie. I have inspected the premises for the variety of safety/health infractions, and I am well aware of their existence.  My team members are I have dedicated much time to the stated issues and continue to make the necessary repairs.  Public and staff safety are the highest of our priorities, and every infringement upon this principle is being addressed.  Although it is not within my scope to comment upon how the previous owners maintained their business at this location, I can state that my staff and I not only look forward to achieving par quickly, but we are striving to excel beyond such standards."

The Marriott on Okeechobee Blvd., in West Palm Beach says they also have strict food handling policies. But state inspectors recently fined their restaurant, 1001 Bistro, more than $1,700.

The hotel's Director of Food and Beverage Operations, Kelly Bevil, sent us this statement: "We are aware of the reported issues related to the hotel.  Marriott takes food safety very seriously.  As a result, Marriott has established very strict food handling policies and procedures.  We have corrected the matters identified in the inspection report and have taken the appropriate steps to prevent this situation from happening again.  At no time were the hotel's food and beverage operations closed as a result of this situation."

A Taste of Italy in West Palm Beach is struggling to keep their doors open after their recent $1,300 fine from the state. The owner said the one-year-old business took over a location that needed a lot of repairs.

"If something is missing, I would like to work with them to fix it to keep this place running," says owner Nora Kazakbayeva.

State inspectors said they found multiple roaches, which Kazakbayeva denies. "That's a lie. I'm not afraid to say that's a lie."

More than a dozen restaurants were fined in January. The complete list is below.

1. Late Night Bar- 7370 S. Federal Hwy, Port St. Lucie- $2,400

2. 1001 Bistro- 1001 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach- $1,760

3. Taste of Italy- 1709 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach- $1,320

4. Benny's Ice House- 9803 S Military Trail, Boynton Beach- $1,240

5. Dominic's- 1790 N Congress Ave, Boynton Beach- $680

6. E R Bradley's Saloon- 104 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach- $640

7. Alabama Joe's- 8794 Boynton Beach Blvd, Boynton Beach- $640

8. Anna's Italian Restaurant- 291 SE Port St. Lucie Blvd, Port St. Lucie- $600

9. Big Apple Pizza- 2880 SW 9th St, Vero Beach- $400

10. La Granja Restaurant- 4840 Lake Worth Road, Greenacres- $400

11. Carmela's Brick Oven Pizza- 2311 E Ocean Blvd, Stuart- $320

12. Pueblo Viejo Mexican Grill- 3181 NW Federal Hwy, Jensen Beach- $320

13. Nature's Table- 6200 20th St. #458, Vero Beach- $200

14. Ay Jalisco- 465 21st St, Vero Beach- $160

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