Jeramey Jannene

Grocery Store Closed For Live Roaches, Dead Mice

Cermak Fresh Market temporarily shuttered by Milwaukee Health Department.

By - Feb 8th, 2024 04:42 pm
Cermak Fresh Market. Photo by Allie Mucks.

Cermak Fresh Market. Photo by Allie Mucks.

UPDATE: The store reopened Friday, Feb. 9.

A southside grocery store known for low-cost produce is temporarily closed after inspectors found 23 violations, including live roaches, during a health inspection on Feb. 6.

The Milwaukee Health Department ordered Cermak Fresh Market, 1236 S. Barclay St., to close on Feb. 6 after it failed a routine health inspection. A follow-up inspection on Feb. 7 found continued evidence that pests were present and the store remains closed.

“MHD is actively collaborating with the Cermak Fresh Market management to address these concerns comprehensively,” said the department in a statement.

According to an inspection report provided to Urban Milwaukee, violations found range from the easily correctable, such as storing boxes on the floor and employee items near food, to the serious, including live roaches being spotted on the floor and walls, food packages with evidence of rodent bites and dead mice near stored stores.

“Ultimately, our goal as a health department is to focus on the health and safety of the public,” said MHD. “That being said, our health inspectors are dedicated to working with establishments by educating them on violations and working with them to ensure issues are addressed and rectified in an immediate, and preventative fashion. Our goal is to always work with a business so it can continue to serve as a safe, healthy resource for the public.”

The 46,000-square-foot store, the Illinois chain’s second in Wisconsin, opened to great fanfare in 2017. Michael Bousis, of Lake Forest, IL, is the store owner and CEO of the chain.

The full-service grocery store features a wide variety of produce, a sizable deli, grab-and-go hot items and a substantial number of ethnic food offerings, many of which cater to the large Hispanic population in the surrounding area.

A series of comments in the initial five-page inspection report paint a picture of a back-of-the-house operation with failing equipment and substantial issues with cleanliness.

“The dish machine is leaking and is not maintained in good repair. The meat saw has cardboard in the cracks holding parts in place and is not in good repair,” says one item. Others highlight issues with the location of where food items are stored, the use of cardboard as shelf liner and the lack of a functioning thermometer in a mechanical washing machine.

But the section about “controlling pests” will draw the most attention, including that mouse droppings were seen throughout the store.

“Dead mice were seen in walk in coolers, utility rooms, and food storage areas. Live roaches were seen in the kitchen under storage racks and on the wall between in the main kitchen and bakery areas. Food packages were eaten into by rodents in the customer areas as well as on the second floor in the storage room,” says the report.

The findings are radically different than the last annual inspection, conducted in December 2022. That inspection found only four violations, the most serious of which was a dessert cooler being three degrees above the required temperature. It was immediately corrected, as was the low concentration of a cleaning agent in a sanitizer bucket. Issues with one dusty vent duct and unlabeled bulk candy and ingredient containers were corrected by a January reinspection.

What happened in the past year? Bousis told Urban Milwaukee he had no comment on the situation.

The first Cermak in the Milwaukee area, 1541 Miller Park Way, is located in the Village of West Milwaukee, just beyond city limits. The company’s website lists 15 stores.

2017 Store Opening Photos

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

Categories: Food & Drink

2 thoughts on “Grocery Store Closed For Live Roaches, Dead Mice”

  1. Duane says:

    So I really appreciate this article. I had seen a story on (I believe) channel 58 news the day before this article was posted. Watching that TV spot led me to believe that this cleanliness issue with Cermak was no big deal. Reading this article paints an entirely different picture and I wonder if I will shop at ANY Cermak anymore. Local TV news is really wall to wall bs. They should be embarrassed at the lack of substance behind the endless hours of their “newscast”. And their professed love of this community captured in every station’s catchy jingle is a joke as none of these stations are locally owned and they don’t really serve the purpose of providing meaningful important info anymore.

  2. kenyatta2009 says:

    this is gross. shoppers deserve better

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us