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Health code violations inside 3 Bay area restaurants

10:58 PM, Mar 15, 2012   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- This week we begin our tour of Tampa Bay area restaurants in Bradenton at Nicki's West 59th.

The establishment, across from Blake Medical Center, was temporarily closed Feb. 29 after a state inspector documented finding 19 live roaches throughout the kitchen. Another 20 dead roaches were found along with rodent droppings in a non-working refrigerator next to the walk-in cooler.

Restaurant owners refused to allow our camera into the kitchen but manager Brenda McCarter said the issues have been addressed.

"Anything that went on with us has been cleared up. It was really for about five minutes we were shut," said McCarter.

But customers had their reservations after learning of Nicki's inspection report.

"I'm shocked...I can't imagine them doing that," said 96-year-old Lavenia Jackson who eats at the restaurant almost every night of the week.

View Nicki's Feb 29 inspection report and full inspection history.

In Brandon, Top's China Buffet on West Brandon Blvd, was our second stop of the night.

The restaurant was also shut down by the state after an inspector found:

  • Temperature violations with the tuna salad, and sweet and sour chicken
  • Mold in the ice machine
  • And an employee not washing his hands after taking out the trash

The inspector also documented over 100 live roaches, "too many to count," under the cooking equipment, a rice holder, and behind the Pepsi cooler.

"We immediately called [the pest control company] and they do a very good job," said a Top's China Buffet owner who came to meet us at her restaurant.

But while on our visit inspecting the kitchen, we also found evidence of live roaches. A small roach was spotted by our photographer as it scampered across the floor near the rear of the kitchen.

Top's China Buffet racked up 47 health safety violations in the first week of March alone.

Click here for the Top's China Buffet complete inspection history.

Our final stop was a visit to 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House in downtown St. Petersburg.

The seafood restaurant was not shut down but still had 13 critical violations including a stop sale on gallons of clam chowder found not properly refrigerated. The report also documented no soap at an employee hand sink.

We asked to take a peek inside the kitchen, but the manager asked we come back on a later date.

"I think you can probably come back during the day when we're not busy," said manager Mike Myers.

But before we left we asked for a copy of the restaurant's latest food service inspection report. State law requires a copy for public inspection. But after a brief wait, Myers came back to tell us we weren't allowed to see the report.

"I'm just following orders what my boss told me," said Myers.

The violation prompted a repeat inspection by the state and could result in a fine.

UPDATE: The owner of 400 Beach has since contacted 10 News explaining food safety and the cleanliness of his restaurant is a top priority. He admitted not handing over the state inspection report was a mistake, and now plans to make sure future restaurant inspections are posted right on the front door for everyone to see. He's also invited our 10 News camera back to inspect the kitchen at any time.

You can also click here to see 400 Beach's inspection reports.

Beau Zimmer, 10 News

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