OLDSMAR, Florida — If you love good Chinese food, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Chef Li on Tampa Road in Oldsmar.
“It’s very small, very quaint,” said longtime customer Theresa Evans.
For years, this Chinese restaurant has been serving up customers from across the Bay area.
“If food is fresh for me, I’ll drive 25 miles to get some fresh food rather than go around the corner and get something that’s been sitting there for an hour or two,” said former Chef Li customer Michael Pizzorusso.
That’s why customers are disappointed to hear details of this restaurant’s latest health inspection report. The state ordered a temporary emergency closure of Chef Li on May 3 after documenting 15 violations. State records show the main issue was roaches.
We shared details of the inspection report with customers who were shocked to hear the news.
“This is disgusting,” said Evans who was on her way in to pick up lunch. “I can’t ignore this now that I know.”
“That would have to be something where I’d have to see that is was cleaned up before I would go back in a case like that,” said Pizzorusso.
The health inspection was originally triggered by a customer who reported spotting “small cockroaches running on the tables.” So 10Investigates stopped in to ask management about all the insects.
“They have the pest control every month but they forgot and missed one spot,” said Chef Li employee Jone Lea who told us the roach issue was very isolated and had now been taken care of.
When we asked if restaurant management would be willing to allow us to take a look inside the kitchen we were repeatedly told no.
“Boss says you cannot go into kitchen,” said Lea. “You can [shoot video] out front. You see how clean the restaurant is?”
Customers hoping to “actually see” a cleaned up kitchen say the restaurant’s lack of transparency is disappointing.
“I would like to see them let you go back there so that you could see to let the people know…that the condition was taken care of,” said Pizzorusso.
“I think I’m going to cancel my order because of this,” said Evans. “I’ve been coming here for years.”
Others say they eventually will be back but only after the state confirms future clean inspections.
“I would give them a second shot if I knew they were cleaned up,” said Pizzorusso.
Chef Li was cleared to reopen the day after their emergency closure. The restaurant has met state health standards on all other visits over the past two years.
Take a look at Chef Li’s complete inspection history here.