The Green Iguana off Anderson Road in Tampa.
Tampa, Florida-- The Green Iguana advertises excellent nightlife and the "Best Burgers" in Tampa Bay.
"I used to come here for the club," said longtime Green Iguana customer Nina Molina.
But on this day, we found Molina heading to The Green Iguana's Anderson Road location before dark, trying out the bar and restaurant's lunch for the first time.
"It's something different," said Molina as she arrived to meet a friend.
She had no idea the restaurant was shut down July 16th as a temporary emergency closure. A state inspector uncovered a list of 38 violations, eight of which were considered high priority, according to state records.
PHOTOS: Rodent activity reported at the Green Iguana
Among the problems, the inspector documented a mold-like substance on the ice machine doors, temperature violations on the chicken breast, wings and deli meat, no soap at employee hand sinks, a dirty soda gun, small flying insects in the bar area and rodent activity, with one live rodent caught on a sticky trap in the dry storage area, and more than 20 rodent droppings in a storage room near the electrical panels.
"That doesn't make it appealing to eat here," said Molina, who was glad she found out the information before lunch, instead of after.
A week later, we wanted to know if Green Iguana had cleaned up their kitchen, so we stopped in.
Management greeted us at the front door and explained they didn't want our camera in the kitchen.
"Right now, due to the health inspector, no unauthorized people are allowed, that don't work for Green Iguana back there," said the manager.
Instead, he put us in touch with Alan Fosco, the chain's COO and managing partner who sent us a statement reading:
"The incident that prompted the temporary closing was isolated and occurred in a non-food preparation area separate from the Kitchen. Corrective measures have been taken to fully comply."
-Read the full statement here
But for Molina, she was still hesitant to have lunch so soon after an emergency closure.
"Probably the rodent, that would be the most disgusting part," she said.
We also showed her Green Iguana's inspection history for the Anderson Road location, averaging around 27 violations per inspection over the past two years. They racked up numerous repeat violations for things like no soap at employee hand sinks, slime inside the ice machine and dirty soda nozzles.
"It's like they never learned from the first time," said a disappointed Molina.
"Let's go somewhere else," Molina said, "Because that's not appealing at all."
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