MEMPHIS (WMC-TV) - A chicken-and-catfish upstart in East Memphis and a fast food chain's Midtown location tied for this week's top health inspection scores.
Bosses, 5030 Poplar Ave., and Taco Bell, 1447 Union Ave., earned 99's on their Sept. 21 and Sept. 23 inspections, respectfully.
"Cleanliness is important," said John Yacoubian, Bosses's owner. "We know as a young, burgeoning business, we have to give people an incentive to come in.
"Our first score was a 99. Our second score, five months later, is a 99. So we were thrilled!"
"The food is great," said Bosses customer Son Nguyen, sampling the catfish basket. "The service is awesome! It's super-clean and sanitary, and the menu...everything's cheap and affordable."
Customers of Taco Bell's Midtown location say its hop-to-it staff and cooking standards set it apart from other Taco Bells.
"They actually have the best food out of all the Taco Bells that I've been to," said Brandon Minor of Brighton, TN. He said he eats at the Midtown Taco Bell almost every weekday on lunch break from his Memphis job.
Wasabi Restaurant, 1134 N. Germantown Pkwy in Cordova, TN, failed its Sept. 22 health inspection with a 66:
"steamed rice stored on prep table...shrimp in make-line cooler (at unsafe temps)"
"food-handler handled dirty dishes, left the kitchen, returned and handled food without washing his hands"
chest freezer thermometer "broken"
"bottom shelf...in freezer dirty with food debris"
Wasabi's changing owners. Former manager Johnny Lum said he's consulting for the new owners, who he said will soon change the restaurant's name to Mikado.
"I have been in the business for 15 years, and this is the lowest score I have ever received," said Lum. "I have never seen an inspector this tough, knickknacking on everything."
Lum added he won't be around to manage under the new ownership.
"I corrected (the violations) right then and there. I owe that to my customers," he said.
Wasabi rated an 81 on re-inspection.
The Wing Hut-N-Sum, 8412 Hwy. 51 N., Millington, TN, failed with a 67 on its Sept. 9 inspection:
"waste water leaks"
"no hot water at handsink"
"open food in refrigerator"
"box of chicken thawing at room temp. (at) entrance of freezer door"
"area is in disarray"
Owner Steve Shipp appealed the score because he said it was inaccurate. The water leaks, for example -- he said they don't exist.
"I appealed it because I felt there were some violations that were not true," said Shipp. "I've never had a score less than 80, so I'm disturbed and disgusted over this whole thing."
Shipp got some points back on appeal and earned -- ironically -- an 80 on the follow-up.
Krystal, 975 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN, passed inspection by two points with a 71, but received a food permit suspension notice:
"chili...not maintaining proper temp"
"employee handling money & then food items without handwashing"
"mold in ice machine"
"bug spray stored on rack with plastic food trays"
inspector wrote the word DIRTY 16 TIMES to describe store conditions
Bob Craine, director of operations for Robden Enterprises, owner of the Collierville Krystal, said its score is more about a former employee's sour grapes than actual health code violations.
"We fired a manager a week before," Craine said. "They got mad, went and called the health department. It just so happened that the day the inspector showed up, we had an inexperienced manager running the floor."
The Collierville Krystal scored an 85 on its follow-up.
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