EXCLUSIVE: Mexican Restaurant Owners Speak Out About Being Closed

by Anayeli Ruiz 
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Maggots, food on the floor, and flies everywhere. Those are some of the violations that the health department found at a popular Odessa Mexican Restaurant which forced the Ector County Health Department to temporarily close their doors. The owner of the restaurant wanted to speak to NewsWest 9 to try and clear their name.

The Ector County Health Department has routine inspections with restaurants. This was one of them as inspectors walked in to Ajuua's Mexican restaurant about two weeks ago. They ended up closing it down until the violations were fixed.

"We do address that very seriously because we don't want the citizens to consume food in an unsafe environment," Bob Karr, with the Ector County Health Department, said.

On July 19, an inspector walked in to Ajuuas Mexican restaurant in Odessa and they found several violations including maggots, flies, uncovered food, unlabeled food, buckets of salsa on the floor and many more.

The inspection resulted in a failing grade.

"It's automatic closure. In other words, if they been in 70 or 72 they wouldn't have been closed," Karr said.

Their total score was 64 out of 100.

"The code says they have to make those corrections within 48 hours. In this particular case, they called us back and said everything was ready to go in an hour. We just weren't able to do that fast of a turnaround to go back out there to the same place. We checked it the same day and everything was taken care of," Karr said.

Health inspectors said they found maggots in the linen container outside the restaurant. This is where they keep their dirty aprons and towels. The restaurant says the linen company didn't pick them up them in time.

"That morning, they found some rags that should have been removed by the dry cleaning service but they didn't come in time," Ajuua's Restaurant Owner, Griselda Ramirez, said.

Since then the restaurant has covered the dirty linen pile to avoid anything from getting inside. As for the uncovered and unlabeled food, they say they have fixed that problem as well and they do have the proper lids and labels.

"That morning, we still didn't have everything ready. We were starting to prepare everything," Ramirez said.

The restaurant says that they have corrected everything else. They have exterminated, they keep their buckets of salsa off the floor and they even bought bug zappers to get rid of the flies. They say all they want to do is make their customers happy.

"We just want our customers to know that they can visit us with and feel comfortable and enjoy their food," Ramirez said.

Ajuua's is on a probation period with the Ector County Health Department and they will be constantly stopping by to make sure they meet the standards.

"We're doing some test scores right now. The first one was last week and it was a 85 which obviously brought it up from 64 and another test score this week plus three more. They must pass all of these test scores. Because we want to get them to a point that when we leave there, we don't have to worry about it going from 95 to 64," Karr said.

One interesting note from the Health Department, they say flies have been a problem lately with lots of local restaurants because of the high temperatures and lack of rain. The health department has passed out fliers offering tips to help restaurants keep the pests away.