TAMPA, Fla.- It started with an anonymous tip called in to the state complaining of a "very bad roach infestation" at El Pollo Campestre. The Mexican restaurant is located next to the Tampa Flea Market on North Nebraska. (MAP)
A state inspector went in and documented holes in the ceiling, food not properly date marked, and food debris all over the kitchen floor. He also found numerous live roaches throughout the kitchen, under a food prep table, behind the cook's line, and small bugs in a bin of flour, which prompted an immediate stop sale.
10 News stopped in and tried communicating with an employee who had a hard time understanding our questions. She eventually put us on the phone with the restaurant's owner, who was able to communicate in English. Almost immediately, however, he ordered us out of the restaurant.
But before we left, our camera captured a small insect, possibly an earwig bug, crawling across the floor in the dining room.
The owner of El Pollo had no interest in letting us back into his kitchen. He also would not show us a copy of his latest inspection report and that is a violation of state law.
Unable to confirm if the kitchen was cleaned up, we went next door, where we found a man who runs the barber shop. He told us the restaurant's roaches are so bad they're invading his business.
"Just looking at the roaches coming this way, there has got to be something wrong. You can't eat in a place where there's roaches running everywhere," said a disgusted Francisco Martinez, who believes the problem started shortly after the restaurant opened up for business. "You've got clients sitting down watching the roaches while we cut their hair. It's definitely very frustrating."
But even Martinez was shocked to hear what the inspector found: 7 critical violations and 13 non-critical, including those bugs found in the flour used to make some of the food.
(Full Inspection Report)
"It definitely doesn't sound good at all," said Martinez. "You don't want to put that kind of stuff in your stomach."
State records show when the inspector visited the restaurant was open with an expired license and was using "household Raid" to fight their bug problem.
Click here to find this restaurant's entire inspection history or look up your favorite restaurant using our online search tool.