A longtime tavern in Hillcrest has re-opened after being closed for several days due to health code violations – including the presence of vermin – which the health department said is no longer an issue for the business.
Last week, Nunu’s Tavern, located at 3537 5th Ave., was temporarily shut down after failing a routine inspection conducted by the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health (DEH). The bar also serves food out a small, full-service kitchen.
The inspection found both minor health violations and major ones, including "vermin infestation," which posed "an imminent health risk."
According to the DEH report, one live roach was found under a shelf inside a dry storage area and another on the ceiling inside a bathroom. Rat and mice droppings were found under a cooking line and under a shelf in a dry storage area. There was no evidence of live rats and mice, only the droppings. The business owner was asked to contact pest control and clean up the droppings.
The DEH said the facility would have to remain closed until the vermin problem was resolved and a successful re-inspection could take place. The bar's grade card, typically displayed on its window, was removed and a "closed" sign was posted at the entrance.
Nunu’s is under new ownership; Jon Stamataopoulos took over the business on Jan. 9.
Stamataopoulos said last week he was doing everything he could to make the tavern better and resolve the health code violations. He planned to reopen within a few days of the closure.
He told NBC 7 that maintenance at the property had been neglected for years. Initially, he thought most of the problems could be fixed with deep cleanings and pest control.
Stamataopoulos said that when he called pest control experts to inspect the business, they discovered vermin in the walls, inside holes used for wiring speakers and televisions. He said many of those holes were not properly drilled and installed years ago, leaving room for vermin to make their way inside.
The DEH's initial report states holes were found "in various areas" of the business "allowing for vermin entry," including under kitchen shelves. The DEH ordered all holes and crevices be sealed.
After fixing the violations, Stamataopoulos’ tavern was re-inspected by the DEH. The business scored a 93 percent – or an "A" grade – and was allowed to reopen on Feb. 9.
"Observed no evidence of vermin activity," the DEH re-inspection report stated. "Facility has been approved to reopen."
Only small violations were documented by the DEH in the re-inspection report, with corrective actions ordered, including repairing a deteriorated ceiling above an ice machine, removing wooden pallets from an area at the back of the bar, adding "self-closing device" to a restroom door, and providing weather stripping on all exterior doors.
Nunu’s celebrated the successful re-inspection by posting the news to Facebook Friday – one month to the date of the ownership change.
"The crew has worked really hard the past few days and we all would love nothing more than to see a few friends and patrons stop by to say hi," the post read.
The late-night watering hole has been a neighborhood mainstay for more than five decades. It’s known for its stiff drinks, cozy leather booths, dim lighting and a lively bar top that’s typically packed to the brim.
Nunu’s is open daily, from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The kitchen is open until 12:30 a.m. or 1 a.m., depending on the day, and offers American bar fare like chicken wings, burgers, nachos, fries and onion rings.
Earlier this month, in an unrelated case, the DEH temporarily closed the Pancho Villa supermarket in Normal Heights, due to serious health violations.
A 13-page report obtained by NBC 7 said the inspection found cockroaches, rodent nests, and droppings at the property, among many other violations. The popular market fixed its violations and also re-opened.