Former health inspector's restaurant shut down a third time

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida— We've visited Gateway Pizza and Pasta Company over and over again. It's a restaurant with pages of violations on inspection after inspection.

On previous visits by 10 News, a man who identified himself as Gary told us the restaurant's problems were no big deal.

"We had one little incident and everything was taken care of immediately and everything is fine right now," said Gary back in 2013.

But when we asked for permission to inspect back where the food is made, Gary was not so eager to accommodate.

"We don't let anyone back in the kitchen," Gary explained. When we asked how to get in touch with the owner, Gary responded, "I'm not calling him right now."

It turns out Gary Darin is the owner and the one ultimately responsible for keeping the food served to customers safe. State health inspectors uncovered 117 violations on seven different inspections over five days this month. Gateway Pizza & Pasta Company was ordered to close on April 2 with 31 violations, including live flies in the kitchen, roaches under the prep table, and dozens of rodent droppings on and around the dough mixer, under the soda machine, and by the register right next to the pizzas. There was a dead rodent under the ice machine, and the state inspector issued a stop sale on the chicken, describing the wings as "rancid and unwholesome." The restaurant was operating with an expired license when we stopped in again.

Gary wasn't around on our latest visit and failed to return any of our calls this week. On our previous visit back in June, he stopped talking altogether.

"Okay, the interview is over, Beau," Gary said after answering a few questions. "The things you're looking at on these reports are ridiculous little things. Believe me, I'm real familiar with this."

And he is familiar with this. 10 Investigates has learned Gary Darin, the owner, is actually a former food safety inspector previously employed by the state of Florida. He inspected food service establishments from 2002 to 2003 before he resigned. A supervisor noted he would not be recommended for future employment with the state citing pending disciplinary action.


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