LARGO, Florida — The last time we visited CS Kobe and Italian on Ulmerton Road in Largo owner Jackie Xu promised customers all the health code violations were taken care of.
“I wanted people to see that everything is clean now,” said Xu in our interview from early 2015.
A month earlier, state health inspectors found live roach activity and other violations so serious the establishment was ordered to temporarily close.
After employees initially refused to show us the restaurant's health inspection report as required by Florida law, Xu and his attorney later invited us back to the restaurant, this time promising to keep a copy of the report posted at the front door for everyone to see.
“Yes! People love to see that,” said Xu as he hammered a nail into the wall to frame his December 2014 inspection report which showed the establishment had passed a re-inspection.
But now, 18 months later, 10Investigates has uncovered many of the same violations are still reoccurring. The restaurant failed to meet state inspection standards on their three most recent inspections racking up 134 violations in April. Many of the violations are repeated over and over again on all three inspections.
Among the problems listed on the state inspection reports: employees failing to wash their hands, no soap or paper towels at the hand washing sink, along with temperature abuse on the sushi rice and sliced meats. The inspector also reported finding old ravioli cheese mix from January in the kitchen and ordered that be thrown out.
The establishment is also facing fines from the state for allegedly misrepresenting a less-expensive fish called escolar calling it "white tuna" on the menu. The FDA warns that type of fish can make some people sick because of its high wax content making it difficult for some people to digest.
So last week 10Investigates returned yet again. A manager who greeted us at the front door seemed confused when we started asking about all the repeat violations telling us everything was fine back in the kitchen.
“Yeah, otherwise why are we still open,” the manager said. When we asked about why so many of the original 56 violations were not corrected by the follow-up visit from the state the manager declined to comment. “I don't want to talk to you. … Can you step out?”
Customers likely have no idea about all the violations. That's because the restaurant has an old inspection report from 2014 posted by the front door. When we asked to see the current report with all the latest violations we were told to come back another time.
“It's in the office. I think the door is locked.”
We asked the state what it was doing about all the repeat violations. A spokesperson for the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants says the establishment's owner is facing a "special penalty case" which could result in additional fines, for among other violations, continuing to misrepresent "white tuna" on the menu. Jackie Xu was already fined $660 last year. His other location, CDB's Pizza near USF was fined $3,000 with 2 emergency closures on their record over the past several years.