Local Music

University district food and music favorite Yayo Taco closes

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The Tinglerz perform at Yayo Taco.
Photo: April Corbin
Chris Bitonti

Update 3: Local bands have organized a Friday, March 1 benefit show at Yayo Taco in a last-ditch attempt to keep the place open. Set times (subject to change) for tonight are: InReflect, 5:30 p.m.; Oranges, 6 p.m.; These Colors, 6:30 p.m.; 1819, 7 p.m.; Alaska, 7:30 p.m.; Stolas, 8 p.m.; Caravels, 8:30 p.m.; Holding Onto Sound, 9 p.m. Fans are encouraged to donate to the cause.

On January 15 three Southern Nevada Health District inspectors visited Yayo Taco for a surprise routine inspection that left the University district restaurant and music venue with 33 demerits and a C grade for violations ranging from buildup on a dish rack and mold inside a keg cooler to produce stored seven degrees too warm and a dented can of coconut milk.

Owner/chef Cho Yiu had until this week to pay a $477 fine. Rather than pay, he's preparing to for life without Yayo Taco. “They told me if I didn’t pay the fine by February 27, they would shut me down at 4 p.m. today," Cho said on Wednesday. "No one has shown up today, but I fully expect them to shut us down.

“We're gonna go down fighting,” says Cho, explaining that he believes the SNHD, which has fined Yayo Taco $1,200 total the past two years, is motivated by profit more than public health. "When these things happen, I have to look to Gandhi for inspiration. At least Gandhi was able to see things improve before he died," he says.

Yayo Taco—known for its heaping plates of nachos, varied bottled beer selection and all-ages performances by local and touring acts—also closed briefly in August 2012, after receiving 50 demerits from the SNHD. Cho says he’s focusing on Yayo's good times. “In a college town, a lot of seniors come through that we get to know over the course of four years, and we have to say goodbye. But, now we'll have to say goodbye to so many regulars and familiar faces, too.”

Update 1: Yayo Taco has closed.

Update 2: The Southern Nevada Health District has responded to the Weekly's request for more information with a statement, which reads in part: "Concerns with public health and safety are of the utmost importance for the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD). Yayo's Tacos has consistently shown the inability to perform safe food handling practices over a four-year time period: 7-19-2010, B Downgrade, 18 demerits; 2-24-2011, C Downgrade, 37 demerits; 8-31-2012, Closed with fees, 50 demerits; 1-15-2013, C Downgrade, 33 demerits."

"The major violations that consistently occurred over this four-year time period consisted of the following: 1. Thawing of raw meat improperly; 2. Storing raw meat on the floor; 3. Adulterated foods (including spoiled or out of date foods); 4. Temperature violations (cold holding of potentially hazardous foods at 87⁰F – should be at 41⁰F or below); 5. Lack of proper employee hygiene (lack of hand washing); 6. Lack of sanitization of food contact surfaces (sanitizer buckets without any sanitizing solution); 7. Mold growth inside the ice machine."

"The Southern Nevada Health District puts forth every effort to work with establishment owner(s) to correct violations and provide education. The owner of Yayo's Tacos was given two Supervisory meetings at the health district. During the Supervisory meetings, the owner was offered a thorough explanation of all demerits/violations and given any educational material to support the improvement of the establishment and safe food handling. Also included in the meetings were compliance time frames and guidelines the owner needed to complete to be successful."

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