Flooding in West Boca Raton: Photos and Stories

We posted a few reader photos of flooding on Facebook last night. Other readers responded with more, and with stories. The flooding was so bad it got inside Town Center Mall:
That first photo is from our own kid getting in on the action. We also received mall photos from readers. This one is also from inside:
Parking areas were also flooded.

Reader Robyn Becker-Bracero sent us several photos including this one of her feet underwater.
Reader Robyn Becker-Bracero sent us several photos including this one of her feet underwater.

Robyn Becker-Bracero told us:

It was inside the mall. The water was pouring in through the employee/security entrance next to Macy’s and the Apple Store. It started coming in quick. Several people were video taping. It was even worse outside under the covered lot at Macy’s exit.

We saw flooding ourselves in Town Center Circle (east side of Military south of Glades) with water up to several inches deep at its worst. Leaving that plaza we were about to turn onto NW 19th but the water looked very deep so we converted that left into a U-turn and headed south on Palmetto Park Road. There was significant flooding on Palmetto, especially on the westbound side in the right lanes both near the Kabbalah Center (just west of Turnpike) and at the intersection with Lyons Road.
Readers also reported significant flooding along SW 18th west of Powerline and near Boca Rio.
Lindsay Roffman-Schwimmer reported:

My SUV was stuck in boca pointe last night. Hundreds of cars were just sitting ducks.. some of them were floating by me. I couldn’t tell what was the lake and what was the road. I pulled into a sub development and waited in a guest spot that was raised on higher ground. My boyfriend had to come in his truck and rescue me.
Many smaller luxury cars were submerged in water up to their windows. It was literally a mini natural disaster area.. Also including SW 18th street areas. I hope everyone is safe now.

In the same area Melisa Mely said:

I have never seen more water on the 18th Street. Some cars actually got stuck. I’m glad I made it home.

There was more flooding in Watergate Estates (aka West Sandalfoot):
Also in Escondido (east side of Lyons south of Glades):
Even the French residents got in on it, from Bensimon Nessim:

C’est catastrophique, le pire c’est que contre les inondations on ne peut pas faire grand chose
(Translation) It is catastrophic, the worst part is that against the floods we can’t do much

And there were just places where traffic went deep:
Reader estimates of total rainfall varied from 1.5 to over 5 inches. We estimate 4-5 inches fell in Boca Falls from our own somewhat reliable method (rise in the level of our pool). For arguably more reliable numbers, we have this from the National Weather Service:
There was significant coverage of the flooding in other media. Our favorite was WPTV reporting that Boca Raton City Hall experienced flooding on both the 1st and 2nd floors. Second floor?
Update: Bonus photo from reader Samir. This one is in East Boca on Federal Highway.
One other detail that was mildly amusing, where the National Weather Service posted a tornado warning recommending people go to their basements, which is not terribly practical in South Florida.

Corner Bakery Cafe Near Town Center

All photos copyright Warren Redlich 2016; free to share if you credit West Boca News.
All photos copyright Warren Redlich 2016; free to share if you credit West Boca News.

Corner Bakery Cafe is a nice little spot just east of Town Center Mall on the south side of Glades Road. If you’re familiar with Panera, it’s similar in style but it’s a step up in atmosphere and quality.
Image and map data by Google
Image and map data by Google

We were invited to try out some dishes there and as usual we liked it. Their most popular item is the Chicken Pomodori sandwich (they call them Panini). Here are a couple pictures, from above and inside the sandwich:
The Chopped Salad was huge, fresh and delicious. They had me at bacon.
Please note that although the salad was very good at the time, it doesn’t keep for long if you bring it home. That’s a problem with any dish that has fresh tomatoes. We brought most of this home and ate it that night, and it was still okay but it would not have been any good the next morning.
The Cuban Press sandwich, on the other hand, was still good the next morning when I ate the second half of it. This is not a traditional Cuban but I liked it better. Both the cheese and the ham seemed to be a better grade than what I’ve had in Cuban places in Miami. The bread was also excellent.
We also got a “trio” of sides including hummus, cavatappi pasta salad, and Southwest Avocado. The avocado was our favorite.
There’s a lot of room inside for dining, and a few tables outside as well.
We also understand that they like doing fundraisers for local schools and groups, especially at dinner time.
Corner Bakery Cafe is at 2240 NW 19th St, Boca Raton, FL 33431.

Roaches, Rodents and Mold on an Epiphany? Restaurant Inspections for East Boca

Update: Villagio in Mizner Park was temporarily closed on May 20th due to roaches, and there was also a stop sale due to raw beef being left out all night. They had a total of 23 violations.

High Priority – Roach activity present as evidenced by live roaches found. Observed approximately 10 inside a broken oven that is not in use on the cook’s line.
Stop Sale issued on potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food due to temperature abuse. Piece of raw beef left at room temperature all night.

Stir Crazy at Town Center has had a string of rough inspections over the last several months. The worst of it, recently, was on April 27th when they were closed by inspectors for the day due to both roaches and rodents.

Roach activity present as evidenced by live roaches found. Observed approximately 10 live roaches by the walkin cooler, 3 live roaches by dry storage shelving, 10 live roaches by the dish machine, 16 live roaches by the cookline area, 1 live roach at the employee restroom and 2 live roaches by the mop sink.
Rodent activity present as evidenced by rodent droppings found. Observed approximately 15 dry rodent droppings in upstairs storage room.

The restaurant appears to struggling with inspections. We count six inspections since February with four requiring follow-ups. Four of those inspections happened in the last three weeks. Their first inspection in February found dead roaches and as we reported in August, they had problems with rodents on an inspection in July.
Usually when we see a place have a bad inspection they respond with near-perfect inspections for at least a little while. Stir Crazy seems to be having trouble getting things right. The April 27th inspection found 17 violations and only couple weeks later they had 16 violations.
While that was probably the worst inspection in this report, it is not the worst number. Yakitori Sake House in Royal Palm Plaza “wins” that prize with a total of 40 violations including 8 marked “high priority,” some of which are a bit unnerving:

Dishmachine chlorine sanitizer not at proper minimum strength. Discontinue use of dishmachine for sanitizing and set up manual sanitization until dishmachine is repaired and sanitizing properly. 0 ppm chlorine, corrected to 100 ppm chlorine. **Corrected On-Site**
Employee handled soiled dishes or utensils and then handled clean dishes or utensils without washing hands. **Corrected On-Site**
Employee handled soiled equipment or utensils and then engaged in food preparation, handled clean equipment or utensils, or touched unwrapped single-service items without washing hands. Dishwasher from handling dirty equipment to handling clean plates without washing hands first.
Employee washed hands with no soap. **Corrected On-Site**
Food stored in ice used for drinks. Water bottle and apple at bar.
Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) hot held at less than 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Sushi rice at 109° F in sushi bar area under no temperature control. Rice time marked. Assisted operator in completing application for time as a public health control. **Corrective Action Taken**
Raw animal food stored over ready-to-eat food. Raw shrimp over prepped veggies at walkin cooler. Raw fish over cream cheese and krab at sushi bar cooler. **Corrected On-Site**
Raw animal foods not properly separated from one another based upon minimum required cooking temperature in reach-in freezer – all products not commercially packaged. Raw chicken next to and touching raw beef at Whirlpol cooler. Raw chicken over raw shrimp at Whirlpol cooler.**Corrected On-Site**

Yakitori Sake House did follow up with a near-perfect inspection a week later.
Second worst in total number was Chick N Chop on Federal Highway with 31 violations including the most interesting one we’ve ever seen:

Food with mold-like growth. See stop sale. Observed a gray mold growing on an epiphany in a case of eggplant in the rear prep area. **Warning**

We’re not sure how an epiphany would get into a case of eggplant, what it would look like, or how mold would grow on it. But we don’t think we’d want to eat that.
Another bad one goes to Nino’s of Boca II on NE 5th Ave (east of Federal Highway north of Glades). They had 13 violations and some kind of emergency order recommended. They’ve had some bad inspections as we mentioned in March, and October. This may have been the final straw because it looks like the restaurant has closed. Their website is gone and their phone number is disconnected. Because they’re closed we can’t find the latest inspection report, though it was covered by BizJournals.com:

ordered to close temporarily for a fourth time this year on March 16 for rodent problems, when inspectors found rodent droppings near cooking equipment in the kitchen

Now for the real winners:
Several places had perfect inspections, including the Cinemark theater, Strikes bowling, PF Chang’s, Estia Greek Taverna, Amitie Cafe, Lion & Eagle Pub, Funky Buddha Lounge, Skyview Cafe, Little Caesars, and several places within the Boca Raton Resort.
Other notables with good numbers include Shake Shack on Glades and Sushi Ray in Town Center Circle with just two violations each. Morton’s of Chicago in Town Center Circle had only three minor violations.
Others with 10 or more violations were:
Federal Highway:
Renzo’s Cafe Pizzeria, Sushi of Boca Raton, Taverna Kyma (including a stop sale due to temperature problems), Sinful Sandwich, Piezano’s Pizza & Pasta, Sonny’s Gelato CAfe, adn Sakura Thai & Japanese.
Mizner Park & Royal Palm Plaza:
Dubliner, Sapphire Indian, Casimir Bistro, Lemongrass
Dean Anthony’s Express Pizza (Yamato), Cheescake Factory, DaVinci’s of Boca (Town Center), Boca’s Best Pizza Bar, and Bogart’s Bar & Grille
As usual, our full spreadsheet is below.
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/eastboca-5-2015.pdf”]

It's Magic! 39 Violations for a Chinese Restaurant in East Boca

The restaurant formerly known as Pine Garden
The restaurant formerly known as Pine Garden

A rose by any other name? Our list of East Boca restaurant inspections is topped by a restaurant now named “Magical Rice,” on Federal Highway. Their early March inspection revealed a total of 39 violations including 7 marked high priority.

Bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food while the establishment is under a foodborne illness investigation. Employee cutting vegetables with his bare hands . Gloves worn. **Corrected On-Site**
Employee failed to wash hands before putting on gloves to work with food. **Corrected On-Site**
Nonfood-grade containers used for food storage – direct contact with food. Cooked chicken stored in non food grade bags in walkin freezer.
Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food prepared from/mixed with ingredient(s) at ambient temperature not cooled to 41 degrees Fahrenheit within 4 hours. Initial temperature of Shrimp 45 to 46° F , 2nd temp within 1 hr between 43 to 52° F. Cooling for 2 hrs at flip top cooler in cookline. At current rate of cooling the product will not cool to 41° F within 4 hrs. Added ice to rapid cool. Maintain lid closed on flip top cooler. Corrective action taken.
Raw animal food stored over/with ready-to-eat food in walk-in freezer – not all products commercially packaged. Raw chicken over cooked pork. **Corrected On-Site**
Raw animal foods not properly separated from one another based upon minimum required cooking temperature in walk-in freezer – all products not commercially packaged. Raw chicken next to and touching raw pork . **Corrected On-Site**
Toxic substance/chemical stored by or with clean or in-use utensils. Degreaser next to clean pots at cookline. **Corrected On-Site**

Per their website they used to be Pine Garden restaurant, which had poor inspection reports in August and May of 2014. It appears the name change did not magically improve things.
In second place, but possibly worse, Nino’s of Boca II on NE 5th had a bad run with 6 inspections over the past month including three temporary closures. At its worst, the February 12th inspection showed 28 violations including this:

Rodent activity present as evidenced by rodent droppings found, approx. 100 fresh and 50 dry under pizza oven. Approx. 50 both fresh and dry under prep table next to pizza oven. Approx. 30 fresh on prep table shelf next to pizza oven. 2 fresh on dough shelf above prep table. Approx. 15 fresh under reach in cooler at pizza station. Approx. 15 fresh under reach in cooler on cook line. Approx. 20 fresh by fryer. Approx. 20 fresh under prep table in kitchen with slicer. 4 fresh under table by walk in cooler. Approx. 15 fresh under dish machine. Approx. 25 fresh on top of dish machine. Approx. 15 fresh behind rack next to Hobert mixer.

That’s a lot of rodent droppings, and more were found on February 27th:

Rodent activity present as evidenced by rodent droppings found, 10 fresh on top of dish machine, 1 fresh by soda boxes and back door, 3 fresh under shelving by back door, 1 fresh on prep table next to pizza oven, 4 fresh behind reach in cooler, 1 fresh by walk in cooler, 5 fresh under microwave on top of steam table in kitchen. **Repeat Violation**

And again on the 28th:

Rodent activity present as evidenced by rodent droppings found, 10 fresh on top of dish machine, 1 fresh by soda boxes and back door, 3 fresh under shelving by back door, 1 fresh on prep table next to pizza oven, 4 fresh behind reach in cooler, 1 fresh by walk in cooler, 5 fresh under microwave on top of steam table in kitchen. **Repeat Violation** **Warning** At time of callback 5 fresh under soda boxes, 1 fresh by wait station, 1 fresh on left side of walk in cooler, 1 fresh on right side of walk in cooler.

They reopened on March 2nd with a nearly perfect inspection. Nino’s II previously had bad inspections in October and February of 2014.
Ninja Spinning Sushi was hit again, this time with 22 violations in early February. Back in September we reported they were hit with 36 violations.
Bluefin Express on Yamato and Rebel House on East Palmetto Park both had 19 violations. We looked through the reports and didn’t see anything that bad.
Four restaurants were hit with 16 violations including Spadini’s (NE 2nd), Madison’s New York Grill (northeast of Town Center), Punjab (Federal Highway) and Nick’s New Haven Pizzeria (east of Town Center). Stir Crazy (Town Center) and Gluttonous Goat (between Mizner Park and Royal Palm Plaza) each had 15 violations. Despite those numbers we didn’t see anything particularly disturbing.
On the good side of our report, Six Tables (just south of Mizner Park) and Tomasso’s Pizzeria (Palmetto just east of I-95) both had perfect inspections. Four restaurants in Town Center were near perfect including Maoz Vegetarian, Shrimp House, Blue Martini and Chick-Fil-A.
Our full spreadsheet for this report is below:
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/eastboca-early-2015.xls”]

Zinburger? Wine & Burger Bar Coming to Town Center

Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar, a small but growing chain, will open in Town Center in mid-March, according to a company spokeswoman. In preparation they are conducting a job fair at the mall in room 1008C, from 9am to 7pm through February 23rd. They aim to fill nearly 150 positions, “including bartender, server, front desk host/hostess, busser, line cook, prep cook, dishwasher and meat grinder.”
Zinburger Cherry Hill - interior
Customers can enjoy “made-to-order gourmet burgers, hand-dipped shakes and floats, decadent pies and 23 wine varieties.”
To apply for jobs go to Zinburger.wyckwyre.com. For more on the company see Zinburger East.
ZinBurger Logo_4C

Aggravated Battery at Town Center's Blue Martini

Just short of his 26th birthday (which is today), Hugo Bretas was arrested for two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. From court and police records it appears that this incident occurred at the Blue Martini lounge.

Martinis & champagne accompany a global tapas menu, live music & daily specials at this upscale bar.

Mr. Bretas was mentioned in a 2008 article about a fatal shooting, though he does not appear to have been involved in that crime.
Court records show that there were multiple victims now protected by a court order:
We think Bretas is an Olympic Heights graduate but are unable to confirm this.

Bistro N in Nordstrom at Town Center: Review

We recently had a great lunch at Bistro N, a restaurant inside the Nordstrom store at Town Center Mall. The restaurant entrance (above) is on the second floor on one side of the shopping area.
Inside it’s spacious and they fill the tables up with customers.
We started with the Bleu Cheese and Pear Salad. It was excellent, with a variety of ingredients that all had distinct flavors with none overpowering the others. The candied pecans did stand out a bit.
Please note that I did not have my good camera with me so the pictures do not do the food justice.
For entrees one of us had the Chicken with Angel Hair. This was also excellent and came with plum tomato, mushroom and spinach, along with two separate sauces. The tomato sauce was good, but the “rosemary butter” sauce was wonderful. The chicken itself was cooked perfectly and very tender.
For the other entree we had the Crab Stack, which is actually on the salad menu. It was colorful and came with mango, avocado, and a cilantro lime vinaigrette. While pretty, it was not as flavorful as we expected. Somehow I think it would have been better if drizzled with olive oil.
We also had a side of mushroom parmesan risotto. We liked it very much.
We tried two desserts. The Bread Pudding was splendid, warm and tasty.
We also had a Crème brûlée with lemon curd. The lemon curd was good but not our thing, so we pushed most of it to the side. The rest of it was delightful. Notably the “pudding” underneath was slightly less firm than we expected, but that was not a bad thing in this dish.
We should add that there is a kids menu. It’s only $4.95 and includes a drink.
If we have a criticism, it’s a bit noisy due to the acoustics. So if you’re looking for a quiet meal this might not be the best spot. But other than that we highly recommend it and will be back.
Please note that we were invited by the restaurant and our meal was on the house. Because of that we ordered more than usual for lunch.

Review: Sicilian Oven on St. Andrews

We previously reported in April that a Sicilian Oven would open in Boca Village Square on St. Andrews near Town Center mall. We followed up in June when we reviewed Aladdin’s Eatery next door, and got some interior shots.
Sicilian Oven opened a few weeks ago and we got a chance to stop by today and have lunch. We liked it. It’s on the backside of the plaza, facing Town Center:

It’s not huge inside but there’s enough room and it’s attractive.
We started with an extra-cost Tuscan bread. It was about $3. We thought it was good, with oil and various herbs, but we’re not sure we’d order it again for only two of us. It’s filling and makes more sense for a party of four.
Lunch seems like a bargain. The lunch dishes are mostly $8 or $9, and come with a salad. One of us has the regular side salad, which was nice and came with chick peas. The other got the Sicilian side which cost a few bucks extra and had a lot of extras in it, including candied walnuts and olives.
For entrees we had chicken parm and lasagna, which were both good.
The chicken parm was pretty good, but not spectacular. The lasagna was better. Here’s another shot of the insides:
Altogether it was a lot of food, and we took more than half of the lasagna home.
One of the hazards of restaurant reviewing is they sometimes figure out who we are. We were punished with a free carrot cake a la mode. It’s not my dessert of choice, but it was delicious.
We’ve heard the pizza is good. They have a wood-fired oven. But of course, the world of pizza and Italian food is competitive. Maggiano’s is practically next door, for example.
For those who live west of Lyons Road, there are a lot of choices that are closer. Steve’s Wood-Fired Pizza is in Boca Lyons Plaza, with Stallone’s on the north side of Glades, Davito’s in Boca Greens, Villa Rosano on Clint Moore, Meatball Room, and so on.
But if you’re going to Town Center or thereabouts, it might be worth it to stop by Sicilian Oven for lunch or dinner. It’s good food at a good price.
Update: We went back and tried the pizza. I thought the sauce was a little too sweet but the other five in our party like it.

Mother-Daughter Felony Shoplifting?

Two women were arrested Saturday night accused of felony shoplifting at or near the Town Center Mall. The reported address of the incident fits with Macy’s.
Per the Sheriff’s blotter, Valbuena Greeny (64) and Talavera Grenny (45) were charged with the same offenses and booked one minute apart. Both have the same reported address off Del Prado Circle north of Palmetto Park Road. The Boca Police blotter says the two “were arrested for shoplifting and possession of a countermeasure device after they stole $900.40 worth of clothing.”
Living at the same address with ages 19 years apart suggests they may be mother and daughter, or perhaps some other family relationship. They were released on bond early Sunday morning.
Their cases are assigned to different judges but both are scheduled for the state to file charges by October 2nd. We see no criminal history for either of them.

Town Center Nightie Arrest – Questions

moralesThe Sun-Sentinel has an interesting story about an arrest in one of the parking garages in Town Center. The salacious details are that the woman is supposedly wearing lingerie and sleeping in her car. When confronted by police she eventually tries to drive off and they accuse her of aggravated assault.
I looked at the facts as described in the article and have some questions and thoughts. Here’s some excerpts from the article:

Officers found Suzanne Morales, 45, sleeping in the car. They knocked on the car window …. Morales woke up and locked her car doors. Officers asked her to step outside the car, but she refused ….
Police also said they could smell alcohol and suspected she might be drunk ….
They told Morales if she continued to refuse, they would knock out her window.

As a defense lawyer it looks like the police violated her rights.
First of all, it is not illegal to sleep in your car.From the facts in the article, she had every right to lock herself in the car.
Second, they smelled alcohol from outside the car? With the windows closed? I’m sorry folks, but I’m a defense lawyer and that sounds like a routine police lie.
And even if it were true, it’s not illegal to be drunk in your car when you’re parked.
Third, they threatened to knock out her window? That sounds like excessive force and there’s a federal case on it – Deville v. Marcantel.

Officers may consider a suspect’s refusal to comply with instructions during a traffic stop in assessing whether physical force is needed to effectuate the suspect’s compliance. … However, officers must assess not only the need for force, but also “the relationship between the need and the amount of force used.” …
Taking the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, a jury could reasonably find that the degree of force the officers used in this case was not justifiable under the circumstances. A reasonable jury could infer from Deville’s deposition testimony that Marcantel engaged in very little, if any, negotiation with her — and find that he instead quickly resorted to breaking her driver’s side window and dragging her out of the vehicle.

Morales is actually in a better position than Deville was. Deville had been stopped for a traffic violation. Morales had done nothing wrong – and note that she is not charged with any offense for what happened before the police threatened her.
In our opinion, based on the facts we’ve read, the case should be dismissed and Boca PD needs to take a look at how they handled this incident.
We followed up with Sun-Sentinel writer Kate Jacobson on Twitter. She wrote back to us:
KJ: She was on private property & manager complained. Surprised she didn’t get a trespass charge but owner just wanted her out.
WBN: Not trespassing if she wasn’t told to leave.
KJ: According to the [probable cause report] that’s what the cops were there to do. Then she tried to run one of them over, allegedly.
But that’s not what they did. They didn’t order her to leave the property, and it’s not clear that they would even have the authority to make such an order. It’s not their property. State law says they have authority only if they have written authorization from the right entity. That’s the requirement under Florida’s trespassing statute, § 810.08(3).