The cat got our attention ... and revealed critical violations at the East Memphis Mexican restaurant.
MEMPHIS, TN -
(WMC-TV) - A viewer's curiosity caught the cat that helped tank an East Memphis Mexican restaurant's health score.
The Shelby County Department of Health cited Happy Mexican, 6080 Primacy Parkway, with a 72 on April 15 after a viewer sent us smartphone video of a cat sitting in a window on top of customer chairs and tables.
"What is a cat doing in a Mexican restaurant?" the viewer's voice asked in the video. She did not want to be identified. "Cute kitty, but he doesn't need to be in a restaurant."
Action News 5 turned the video over to the health department's restaurant environmentalist Vivian Mormon. The department dispatched her to conduct a surprise inspection of Happy Mexican.
"Yes, the cat would be a critical violation, but (the restaurant) was not cited for it because there was no cat in the establishment at the time of my inspection," Mormon said. She can't cite what she can't observe herself.
But Mormon did find health code violations at Happy Mexican. Critical violations:
"...fruit flies in the dish machine area"
"...no hot water in the handsink"
"...employee returned to cook area and did not wash his hands before prepping/cooking food."
In a phone call, Happy Mexican's manager Jose Gonzalez said he'd check with the owner to get permission to conduct an on-camera interview.
That never happened.
But in the original call, he didn't make any excuses for critical violations. He also explained the presence of the cat.
"In the mornings, we open our doors to dry the floor after mopping," he said. "I guess it came in while we were doing that. We kicked it out right away."
Apparently, not fast enough to avoid a concerned customer's phone camera -- not to mention getting dinged with a 72 health score.
SCORES OF THE WEEK:
Nothing Bundt Cake, 5679 Poplar Ave./Suite 102, East Memphis, 100 on April 8
The Donut Box, 3051 Kirby Whitten Rd., Bartlett, TN, 98 on April 8
Subway, 11615 Highway 70/Suite 110, Arlington, TN, 98 on April 9
Moma's Bar-B-Q, 6301 Stage Rd., Border of East Memphis/Bartlett, 98 on April 10
Papa John's Pizza, 6828 Stage Rd., Bartlett, TN, 98 on April 10
Wow Wings, 4465 Poplar Ave., Oak Court Mall, East Memphis, 98 on April 10
Jeffery's Sandwiches & Treats, 1654 Lamar Ave., South Memphis, 98 on April 11
Papa Murphy's Pizza, 8950 Highway 64, Lakeland, TN, 97 on April 7
Lenny's Sub Shop, 8950 Highway 64, Lakeland, TN, 97 on April 7
Arby's, 967 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN, 97 on April 10
Lynchberg Legends, 5069 Sanderlin Ave., inside Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Colonial Acres/White Station/East Memphis, 97 on April 11
Sakura, 4840 Poplar Ave., Colonial Acres/White Station/East Memphis, 97 on April 10
Gibson's Donuts, 760 Mt. Moriah Rd., White Station Area/East Memphis, 97 on April 11
Bleu Restaurant & Lounge, 221 S. Third St., Downtown Memphis, 97 on April 11
Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches, 5181 Poplar Ave., East Memphis, 96 on April 8
Baskin Robbins, 4758 Navy Rd., Millington, TN, 96 on April 8
Huey's, 4872 Poplar Ave., Colonial Acres/East Memphis, 96 on April 11
Daylight Donuts, 3711 Lamar Ave., Southeast Memphis, 96 on April 10
Bon Ton Café, 150 Madison Ave., Downtown Memphis, 96 on April 10
Pizza Hut, 825 N. Germantown Pkwy, Cordova, TN, 95 on April 9
Wendy's, 815 N. Germantown Pkwy, Cordova, TN, 95 on April 9
Benihana of Tokyo, 912 Ridge Lake Blvd., East Memphis, 94 on April 10
Gridley's BBQ, 6842 Stage Rd., Bartlett, TN, 93 on April 10
Ciao Bella Italian Grill & Bar, 564 Erin Dr., East Memphis, 93 on April 11
Sarah Lee's Kitchen, 4040 N. Watkins St., Frayser, 92 on April 3
Meng's Chinese Cuisines, 2990 Semmes Ave., Cherokee/South Memphis, 91 on April 10
Cici's Pizza, 6600 Stage Rd./Suite 123, Bartlett, TN, 88 on April 8
Krystal, 975 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN, 87 on April 14
Holiday Deli & Ham Co., 7652 Poplar Ave., Germantown, TN, 86 on April 8
Crumpy's Hot Wings, 1336 Jackson Ave., Vollintine-Evergreen, 84 on April 10
Pizza Hut, 7911 Highway 51 N., Millington, TN, 83 on April 8
Danver's, 7300 N. Germantown Pkwy, Cordova, TN, 82 on April 10
Villa Castrioti, 714 Germantown Pkwy, Cordova, TN, 79 on April 9
The Green Beetle, 3255 S. Main St., Downtown Memphis, 77 on April 7
Happy Mexican, 6080 Primacy Parkway, Balmoral/East Memphis, 72 on April 15 (INSPECTION BY REQUEST OF ACTION NEWS 5)
Curry Bowl Indian Cuisine, 4141 Hacks Cross Rd., Southwind Area/SE Memphis, 71 on April 9
Tony's Trophy Room, 929 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN, 66 on April 10 (FAILURE)…upgraded same day to 85
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