TRINITY, Florida — Grille 54, located along State Road 54 in the Trinity Crossings Shopping Center, is one of the hot spots for sushi, burgers and Italian food in Pasco County.
“Great food, great sushi, comfortable atmosphere, just a perfect place,” said Judi Dendy on her way in for lunch with plans to return to Grille 54 for dinner.
But this Trinity restaurant’s latest health inspections have been anything but perfect. The establishment was shut down by the Florida pision of Hotels and Restaurants March 16 with 29 violations including grease accumulating on the floor, an employee not properly washing their hands and live roaches. The inspector reported finding 10 cockroaches crawling across bags of food, more live roaches on the floor and others under the canned goods rack.
“I really didn’t know,” said a shocked Dendy. "I’ve never had a bad experience."
One customer who inquired about the closure got a response from the restaurant on its official Facebook page indicating Grille 54 “passed all of their inspections with flying colors.”
And while it’s true the restaurant was cleared to reopen the very next day, 10Investigates found a history of repeat violations over the past two years including small, flying insects in the kitchen, an employee who failed to properly wash their hands and a black or green mold like substance inside the ice machine.
“Yeah, those are some pretty serious violations,” said customer Jessica Ritz who was arriving to check on reservations for her friend’s birthday.
“Definitely the roaches, that’s not good,” said Ritz when asked about what violations bothered her most. “The unsanitary of the hands not being washed. I think I’m going to call the birthday girl and let her know about this because I don’t think she’s aware.”
10Investigates stopped in checking to see if the restaurant had a copy of its latest inspection report to show customers. A friendly employee who greeted us at the front door told us the chef would bring it outside.
But when that chef eventually met us outside, he was not too eager to hand over the report.
“I’ve been asked by ownership and the legal department to just get your number,” that employee told 10Investigates.
Even after we explained the state statute which makes it mandatory for restaurants to hand over their inspection reports to anyone who asks, the chef still seemed reluctant to bring out the report.
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to or not,” he said. “I have it … and we’re compliant in everything … in everything that was on there.”
That chef eventually brought us out the report in compliance with Florida law. While he said he was not allowed to comment on the specific violations, he did tell us the roach issue had now been taken care of. “Yes … no more roaches.”
Grille 54’s most loyal customers say that’s good news and they will be back.
“If they correct it and pass the next inspection, I’m very forgiving,” said Dendy who added she hoped this was a one-time incident. “I would not be tolerant of having it again.”
Grille 54’s owner sent us this written statement in response to the violations:
“There has been some rumor and speculation on social media about a one-day license suspension ordered on Wednesday, March 16 by the Department of Health. While our subsequent inspection the next morning cleared us, the fact of the matter is that we messed up. Although we just had our monthly scheduled professional extermination service come about a week before, we did not follow up the exterminator’s work with our own inspection and check.
That will never happen again. Regardless of figuring out why the extra check wasn’t done or who is to blame, we know the ultimate responsibility rests solely with us. We messed up, and we’re sorry. Our staff responded to the temporary suspension just like we would hope: they voluntarily stayed until almost 4 a.m. that day to make sure that everything was clean, polished, and sanitary. We believe you rely on us for delicious, authentic Italian and Japanese food, friendly service, and a clean, wholesome and fun atmosphere. We appreciate being many locals’ restaurant and bar of choice, and hope that you’ll accept our apology. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Grille.”