NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- El Agave Azul Mexican Restaurant, located at 238 Washington Avenue, was shut down by the City of New Rochelle on May 1st after the building was declared “unsafe”.
The New Rochelle Quality of Life task force raided the restaurant on April 29th and observed numerous local and state code violations.
The Quality of Life task force is compromised of the New Rochelle Fire Department, New Rochelle Police Department, the New Rochelle Bureau of Buildings, the Westchester County Electrical Inspector, and Westchester County Health Deportment.
The action came just two weeks after the Bronx County Medical Examiner declared a homicide in the death of Juan Mendoza-Torres, 23, a Mexican man, who was found, unresponsive, by police in front of Agave Azul. Sources tell Talk of the Sound the Mendoza-Torres was brutally beaten by three men in Agave Azul known as "Los Tomates" or "The Tomato Brothers", that this occurred in view of multiple witnesses including people working at the restaurant and that these potential witnesses have refused to cooperate with the police investigation.
Gabriela Barragan, the building owner and Carlos Gonzales, the owner of the restaurant, were both present during the inspection and informed of the multiple violations.
Court appearance summons were issued to the business owner, Carlos Gonzales on April 29th; the business was posted unsafe on May 1st after a second inspection found more violations.
Talk of the Sound obtained copies of the reports generated by members of the Quality of Life task force which paint a disturbing picture of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the restaurant.
The electrical inspector identified multiple violations in the restaurant and in the basement:
- Electrical service panel in disrepair and deteriorating condition.
- Multiple open junction boxes in various locations.
- Incorrect wiring methods and wiring material.
- Electrical wiring stropped directly to active gas piping servicing the furnace.
- Electrical outlets in disrepair in multiple locations.
- Incorrect switching, wires, outlets and junction boxes laying directly on the drop ceiling.
- Fixtures and appliances being powered by incorrect methods and power sources.
- Missing ground fault circuit interrupters in the dining room and bar areas and other areas of the restaurant.
- Missing required number of receptacle in the dining and bar areas.
- Ceiling (fluorescent) fixtures are not tied to the building ceiling.
- Closet Gas furnace wired with (Romex).
- Electrical distribution panel in the wet basement not mounted properly.
- The existing electrical service is defective and must be replaced.
- Panel directory missing.
- Basement is damp and wet, electric equipment is required to be in a dry area.
- Basement area has deteriorating agents.
- Mechanical execution of work, must be net and workman-like manor manner.
- (Romex) wire usages' not permitted in commercial/locations.
- Clear access to the electrical equipment.
The Fire department identified multiple violations in the restaurant and in the basement:
- The fire extinguishing system in the kitchen exhaust hood has not been serviced or inspected since 2013.
- An extension on the hood was installed without permits.
- The extinguishing system was not extended to cover the new cooking area therefore did not provide proper coverage by the extinguishing system. The fire alarm panel indicated that the alarm system was experiencing "System trouble" and requires maintenance.
- The exit signage and emergency lighting above the rear exit door was not in proper working order.
The Westchester county health deportment noted multiple health code violations:
RED - Critical Items
- Raw whole shell eggs stored above ready to eat food items in kitchen refrigerator, could lead to cross contamination.
BLUE ITEMS - Sanitation, Design, Maintenance
- Open container of Kraft Mayo, best by date of 4/15/14.
- Refrigeration door gaskets in poor condition, held together with duct tape.
- Wiping cloths not stored in sanitizing solution.
- Wire shelving in kitchen and refrigeration units rusted and uncleanable.
- Single service towels not provided at hand wash sink in men’s and ladies restroom.
- Rodent droppings observed at this time behind and between kitchen equipment.
- Gap exists under exterior door, could provide entrance for insects/rodents.
- Record of extermination not provided at this time.
- Water stained ceiling in dining area.
- Light bulb in walk in box unshielded.
- Fire suppression system does not extend to cover the entire length of the hood unit, area over grill not covered.
Bureau of Building identified multiple violations in the restaurant and in the basement:
- Walk in freezer and roof structure were erected in the rear of the restaurant without first obtaining proper building permits.
- Existing furnace was partiolly dismantled and in need of cleaning and repairs.
- Exhaust ducts exited through the roof and were not weather tight, Clearances from combustible materials was not maintained
- Electrical wires were strapped to the gas line.
- The walls of the ladies restroom were missing tiles.
- The ceiling of the dining area contained multiple stained ceiling tiles.
The building is due for re-inspection on May 15th.