The Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health temporarily shut down Calafia Café at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto for a second time this month due to cockroaches.
According to the health department, inspectors discovered 25 live and dead cockroaches in various areas of the kitchen during a follow-up inspection of the premises on Nov. 8 and ordered the cafe to immediately shut down until the insect problem was corrected. Calafia reopened on Nov. 11, according to an online health department report.
Restaurant owner Charlie Ayers has been working with an exterminator to eradicate the roaches ever since the health department abruptly closed down Calafia Cafe & Market A Go-Go on Nov. 2 after discovering 15 health violations -- including the presence of insects and rodents -- during a routine inspection, according to the online health department report.
The health department determined that the food was "subject to contamination from vermin," and the business was ordered to remain closed until the violations were corrected and the health department issued a written reinstatement of its operating permit. On Nov. 3, both the restaurant and the market received passing scores during follow-up inspections and reopened. Inspectors found no evidence of roaches or rodent droppings in the market side of the business during the Nov. 3 follow-up. Some roaches were still visible in the restaurant, which was ordered to continue working with a pest control company and to seal any remaining holes, gaps or crevices in the kitchen where insects might enter, according to the report.
Restaurant employee Molly Moll said the restaurant shut down briefly due to "a repair issue," but had reopened by the next day in time for dinner service. Ayers didn't respond to a request for comment.
During a second follow-up inspection at Calafia on Nov. 8, health inspectors again ordered the restaurant to close after observing adult and baby cockroaches in the kitchen. The restaurant had corrected the problem by Nov. 11 and was reopened, according to the follow-up report.
Calafia Cafe, which readers voted a "Best Of" winner in the Palo Alto Weekly's annual survey of local businesses earlier this year, has passed eight consecutive inspections since 2015, including a follow-up inspection in January and a routine inspection in July.
Ayers, a former Google chef, opened the farm-to-table restaurant at 855 El Camino Real in 2009. Earlier this year, it became the first restaurant to feature "Sally," a salad bar vending machine aimed at reducing foodborne illnesses by assembling salads out of vegetables stored in refrigerated canisters.
Over the past six months, the health department has temporarily shut down 95 restaurants in Santa Clara County for violations including contamination from vermin, failure to properly dispose of sewage and failure to provide an adequate supply of hot and cold water.