BRANDON, Florida — Lydia Mayernick says friends suggested she try out Cheddar’s Casual Café for the first time earlier this week.
“It was pretty good! We got the cheese fries and that was delicious,” said Mayernick.
But she and the rest of her party had no idea about all the High Priority health code violations uncovered one week earlier. The restaurant was shut down by state inspectors April 20 with 22 violations: Small flying insects in the kitchen, along with rodent activity with droppings found in the dishwashing area and at the bar. The state also ordered the restaurant throw out a pan of macaroni and cheese which was not properly cooled, found at 58 degrees after being cooked the night before.
Mayernick and her friends seemed disturbed -- especially after hearing news of rodent droppings in the bar area and back in the kitchen.
“That’s pretty nasty,” said Mayernick. “I work in a restaurant and that doesn’t happen in my restaurant.”
“It is a disappointment,” said her friend Joyce Hinkle. “We’ve been here several times and never had a problem before. But just hearing of it kind of grosses you out.”
10Investigates stopped in hoping to find out if this Brandon Cheddar’s location cleaned up after the closure.
“I can give you a number, but no one here can comment on it,” said a manager who did not provide his name.
Instead, Cheddar’s PR firm emailed us a written statement calling cleanliness a “top priority” indicating “the Brandon location was already in the process of treatment when the inspector arrived. The restaurant was reopened the very next day and will continue to reinforce rigorous sanitation efforts.”
But when we asked for permission to take a look back where the food is made, “I can’t do that … I don’t have my general manager,” said the employee who met us at the front door.
“They should notify people if they were closed down last week,” said Mayernick. “I probably wouldn’t have eaten here if I knew that.”
And now these customers say they might be reluctant to return, unsure if all the violations are really cleaned up.
“I would second guess it,” said Hinkle. “I don’t know that I would immediately come right back.”
The state did clear this location to reopen the very next day. It was a consumer complaint that prompted the emergency closure inspection.