Las Palmas remains open after several health inspections


Eric Amundson

Las Palmas, a small Mexican grocery store tucked away on Atwood Street, offers traditional ingredients to its customers while tacos heat up on the grill outside of the store. (Photo by Anne Amundson | Staff Photographer)

After at least three visits from the Allegheny County Health Department since it was ordered to close Jan. 24, Las Palmas #2, the Oakland location of the Mexican grocery and restaurant, was reinspected Feb. 5 and permitted to remain open.

Following a a Jan. 24 health inspection, ACHD ordered the restaurant to close and issued a consumer alert. After a reinspection on Feb. 4, the previous problems had not been fixed, but a report on Feb. 5 shows Las Palmas is inspected and permitted to operate.

A sign posted on the front door of Las Palmas Monday evening said despite fixing the issues the Health Department cited, the store and its owners felt the process was unfair.

“We have done our best to be in compliance with the health department, with the constants requests from inspectors. We fix and correct but sometimes they are not fair to every business. We have invoices and documents that show we comply,” the sign said. “Is not our fault. We show proof that we try our hardest.”

Las Palmas did not respond to a phone call Tuesday afternoon.

Twitter user @thedommmm posted a photo of the store’s sign and and questioned the circumstances of the violations, while others said gentrification is at play.

In the health inspection report from Monday, violations occurred in areas such as Cleaning and Sanitization, Waste Water Disposal, Handwashing Facilities, Pest Management and Certified Food Protection Manager. Of the five violations, the ones in Cleaning and Sanitization and Pest Management are considered high risk violations, while the other three are medium risk.

The recent inspection from Feb. 4 cited that “multiple live and dead roaches of all stages” were observed in the grocery store between the Gatorade and cheese coolers, behind the Oreo cookie shelf, inside the coconut juice cooler and behind the chest freezer in the kitchen.

The Oakland Las Palmas has received an average of 6.7 violations per inspection over the last two years. In January it was ordered to close for the second time in the last three years, but in a Feb. 5 inspection, the ACHD permitted Las Palmas to reopen. Graphic by Jon Moss | Online Visual Editor

“Roach droppings still present on shelving, on the floors between coolers, by the tamales freezer, and in other areas that are difficult to access,” the report said. “3-4 dead roaches under the 3 bowl sink.”

Las Palmas was previously ordered to close in November 2016 for 12 health code violations, including rat contamination and cockroaches.

[From January 2019: Las Palmas receives consumer alert]

On Tuesday, Las Palmas was re-inspected and the store was approved to reopen. The most recent health report cites the grocery store and food stand for two low-risk violations — Handwashing Facilities and Pest Management.

“All-purpose disinfectant wipes have been obtained, however wipes specifically for disinfecting hands must be obtained until a permanent solution for the hand washing issues is found for the outside cooking area,” the report said.

In regard to the cockroaches found on Monday, the report said that only a few dead cockroaches remain, but significant cleaning has occurred.

“The facility has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized including all shelving, equipment, evaporators, and floors. Items have been moved up off the floor to facilitate cleaning and pest control treatment,” the report said.

Jon Moss contributed reporting.