LOS ANGELES — Thank goodness for Joel Grover of NBC4's "The Investigators". His expose on the health violations at Los Angeles restaurants has made us all aware of what's really happening with the food at our favorite eateries. Insects, rodents, and filth are not appetizers for the taste buds, nor are they attractive garnishes for a dinner plate.
Jenna Skarzenski / Canyon News
Because of his exemplary work, a restaurant's A, B, C, or D rating is right before our eyes and hungry stomachs before we are seated. With that knowledge we can choose whether or not to eat there.
I love watching Grover's reports. It's quite amusing seeing restaurant owners slamming the door on his face. Don't they realize it makes them look guiltier than ever? I always wonder if they eat the food at their own filthy restaurants. I bet not. They prefer to serve it to you and me. Here's an idea: All restaurant owners with a "C" or worse rating should be forced to eat their own food and nothing else. I'm sure their restaurants would suddenly earn a better grade.
"What the eyes don't see the stomach doesn't feel." Not true!
Have you ever experienced severe gas and indigestion or the 24-hour flu after dining out? Maybe it was really a health code violation induced illness. Most food poisoning cases go unreported because people don't realize they had food poisoning.
Customers deserve the cleanest kitchens. If we wanted bad food, we'd eat out of garbage bins.
My rule has been an "A" restaurant is a place like my mother's kitchen - spotless. "B" restaurants make me think that ooops! someone made a mistake and got caught for a minor infraction. I still eat at "B" restaurants though I do ask the management what they did or didn't do to earn such a rating. A "C" restaurant conjures up some unsanitary images and the feeling in the pit of my stomach tells me to go someplace else fast.
Photo courtesy of El Chavo Restaurant's Facebook.
For over ten years I have been frequenting El Chavo restaurant at 4441 West Sunset Boulevard. I usually order the Senor combination plate and a Margarita(s). Along with the schmaltzy music, cheap decor, and chips and salsa I always leave sated and satisfied.
On Sunday, April 27 my friend and I ventured over to El Chavo for dinner. They used to have an "A" so we never thought twice about looking at their rating. While munching chips and salsa and drinking Margaritas my friend noticed a "C" ominously hanging in the front entrance.
A bit panicked and shocked that our beloved El Chavo could get anything below an "A", we questioned the waiter. He stumbled with an answer blaming the busboys for letting kitchen temperatures rise while cleaning. When asked how long they had such a grade he told us since March. My friend, being in the food industry, said to earn a "C" rating they had to have a more serious violation.
When the waiter returned to take our order we kindly told him we weren't going to order food. We would finish our drinks, pay, and leave. We were not comfortable with their "C" explanation. The waiter left the table and spoke with the manager on duty (it might even have been the owner).
Let me explain that the restaurant was not busy. There were plenty of empty tables. So having us at a table was not taking away from them serving a full course dinner to someone else.
Seconds later the waiter came over and dropped the check. He then angrily pulled away the chips, salsa, and glasses of water making it quite clear that we were to pay and get out. We were shocked at this behavior. Their customer service was as bad as their rating, even worse. Wouldn't it have been better customer service to have the manager/owner come talk to us and explain? We might even have stayed.
The fact remains that we were not the ones with the dirty restaurant, they were! We quickly finished our drinks and paid the bill. As we were leaving we told them we'd never come back. They couldn't have cared less. They wanted us out of there.
Shame on El Chavo for copping an "F-U" attitude towards their customers. Shame on El Chavo for putting their customers at risk with health code violations. El Chavo needs to learn how to treat their customers with respect and most importantly to keep a clean and healthy kitchen.
We never did get Mexican food that evening. We ended up at Prado Restaurant in Larchmont Village where we enjoyed a delicious meal. The server was attentive and friendly. And yes, they have an "A" rating.