CLEARWATER, Florida — A popular Clearwater restaurant is back open this week after state health inspectors shut the establishment down as an emergency closure due to a list of health code violations found in the kitchen.
Country Harvest Restaurant is located at 1285 South Missouri Avenue in Clearwater.
"I've been coming here for 20 years," said Marilyn Manspeaker. "I wouldn't go anywhere else."
She and other loyal customers say it's hard to beat the great taste and friendly atmosphere the restaurant has become known for.
"Good home cooking, good waitresses, everything is excellent," said Manspeaker. "We really, really like it here."
But Marilyn and her husband, Larry, say they had no idea the Clearwater restaurant was shut down by health inspectors, just days before their visit. The state ordered a temporary emergency closure after documenting 25 violationsincluding both dead and live roaches throughout the kitchen, inside a can opener, behind the ice machine and on clean cook wear. The inspection report also listed temperature violations on the pork, cottage cheese, chili, stew and potatoes found at potentially dangerous temperatures with some of the food not properly cooled from the night before. The inspector also issued a stop sale after finding a moldy jar of olives.
"It's very hard for me to believe what you're telling me," said Manspeaker. "I've been coming here for 20 years and of all the restaurants around here this is my favorite restaurant."
The restaurant was cleared to reopen after the state inspector reported the operator cleaned and washed areas where the roaches were found. 10 News stopped in checking on conditions in the kitchen a week later.
"We cleaned the entire restaurant. That's all I really know about it," said Pat Trizis who identified himself as the front host and son of the owner. "He really doesn't tell me much. He just has me come in and host."
When asked what was done to get the issues corrected, 10 News was told everything was quickly corrected.
"We've taken care of it. We cleaned out everything. We took apart cases and machines and scrubbed and scrubbed and cleaned and cleaned. So there's really no problem anymore," said Trizis.
10 News was told we would not be allowed to take a look inside the kitchen because the owner was in a meeting.
"I'm not sure if he'll be back today. If anything he will be here tomorrow morning," said Trizis.
Customers seemed shocked when 10 News showed them the restaurant's list of violations.
"I feel that everything I ordered here, I ate was very good. I've never even as much as seen a fly in this place," said Manspeaker.
And while our camera wasn't allowed into the kitchen, employees say an exterminator has been back twice to make sure any insect issues are gone for good.
"He did one sweep Thursday night and then came back again Friday night."
We attempted to get in touch with the owner of Country Harvest Restaurant but he did not return our call as of Wednesday night.
You can take a look at the restaurant's entire inspection history by clicking here