Health officials call Golden Nugget roach infestation "explosive"

Health officials call Golden Nugget roach infestation "explosive"

By Darcy Spears. CREATED Dec 13, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A roach problem has been described by health officials as "explosive" and "excessive" at the Golden Nugget downtown.

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears first reported yesterday that two restaurants and the employee dining room were shut down by the Southern Nevada Health District.

Today, in a Dirty Dining follow-up, Darcy learned employees have been complaining about the problem for years.

If you're eating right now, you might want to put the fork down because the pictures health inspectors took are not at all appetizing.

They're from the kitchen that services both the Carson Street Cafe and Lillie's Asian Cuisine at the Golden Nugget.

It's a kitchen that's harboring a whole lot more than food.

"The type of roaches we found -- the German roaches -- they are problematic and they are hard to control, particularly in a kitchen where you have everything that they would want," explains Environmental Health Supervisor Larry Rogers.

According to these inspection reports obtained by Contact 13, the Golden Nugget has been repeatedly advised by their pest control company to plug holes in floors, walls and ceilings and to get rid of standing water and accumulated grease.

Rogers says a roach problem of this magnitude is not new.

"It could be a matter of several months for them to grow from a low-level infestation that's practically undetectable into a full blown, you know, roaches crawling around during the day time.
Darcy: Which is what you guys saw there?
Larry: It is what we saw there.

Contact 13 has heard from multiple current and former employees of the Golden Nugget who say the roach problem there is nothing new.

And health officials confirm that employees have been complaining about it for at least the last three to four years.

"Over the last four years we have had numerous complaints from the employees at the Golden Nugget about the EDR."

The EDR, or employee dining room, is thought to be the source of the roach problem.

Pictures from that area show how pervasive the infestation is. And though inspectors followed up on those employee complaints, they never found enough to shut the place down.

"When we were there and moving around, they were probably hiding, and now, for whatever reason, we're starting to notice them.  Probably, their numbers have proliferated substantially over the past month."

Rogers says the Golden Nugget has been diligent about getting professional pest control into the facilities.

Darcy: Whatever it is they're doing isn't, wasn't enough?
Larry: It wasn't enough, that's correct.

The employee dining room was written up in November for a fruit fly infestation, which inspectors say was still there this week.

They also found an excessive fruit fly infestation in the service bar area of the Carson Street Cafe.

Rogers thinks this is the wake up call the Golden Nugget needed.

"The response was a healthy response. I'd just rather see proactive than reactive in food safety situations."

Health inspectors did a survey of all the food operations at the Golden Nugget. Out of 67 permits, they only found problems in five, and that translated into two kitchens, not the whole facility.

So most of the restaurants in there are actually fine.

The Golden Nugget sent a written statement today saying, "The safety of our employees and guests is of the utmost importance to us and therefore we are going above and beyond what the health department has asked us to do in order to correct this incident." 

Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.