Restaurant Red Alert: Clearwater Beach IHOP reopens after emergency closure

6:25 AM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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CLEARWATER BEACH, Florida - The International House of Pancakes is known for serving breakfast any time you want it, but a group of customers who reported stopping into the IHOP on South Clearwater Beach say August 3 they got something they didn't want: ROACHES at their table!

A customer in the group filed a complaint with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation alleging cockroaches were crawling around on the wall and floor at around 11 a.m.

PERFECT 10:  List for the week of August 19th, 2013

The customer wrote, "They comped our entire meal ... of almost 100 dollars! I understand things happen. I wasn't that concerned until [the waitress] said it's been happening a lot lately!! I felt like
I needed to let someone know!! I love IHOP, but gross!!! It needs to be checked out!! please!!!"

That complaint resulted in a visit from the state several days later. The inspector documented 27 violations, five considered high priority. Among the issues were an employee not properly washing their hands before putting on gloves; food stored on the floor in the walk-in cooler; clean utensils in a dirty container; the freezer gaskets found soiled with a slimy/mold-like build-up; the in-use butter scoops stored in unclean water; and a temperature violation on the cooked sausage, found at 98 degrees.

The inspector also reported finding live roaches, including five on the cooks' line, two more along the wait line, 25 in the dish washing room, and five in the back prep room. 

There was also no certified food service manager on duty, no paper towels at the cook's line hand sink, and a missing fire extinguisher, according to the report.

"You have some people and ownerships of restaurants that just don't have the responsibility and accountability that they should have," said Carroll Denmark, who was visiting Clearwater Beach from Ocala. He believes the state should bear more responsibility in enforcing safe standards.

"I just feel that some of these inspectors, they make friends with some of these restaurant entrepreneurs," said Denmark. "They just don't look too much. It should have never have gotten to that point, to that level, before they finally closed down the restaurant."

Last week, we stopped in to check on conditions in the kitchen and we found the entire restaurant still closed down for renovations. The state had cleared the restaurant to reopen the day following their closure, but apparently restaurant management wanted additional steps taken before allowing their Clearwater Beach restaurant to reopen.

While 10 News was not allowed to inspect the kitchen, even after the restaurant reopened, we did receive a written statement:


"At IHOP, anything less than meeting-and exceeding-standards is unacceptable to us and not what we expect for our guests. We took immediate action to correct any issues, and to ensure we are operating at the highest level of excellence. We also decided to use the opportunity to close for several days to do some minor construction to provide additional galley space bring in some state of the art equipment which will allow us to serve our guests quicker and more efficiently. We reopened Friday, August 23rd and look forward to welcoming back our guests and providing them the friendly service and great food they expect and deserve when they dine at every IHOP."

-Craig Hoffman, Senior Manager, External Communications, IHOP

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