SPRING HILL, Fla. — Known for carhops delivering food, Sonic Drive-Ins can be found across the country.
“We eat the hotdogs and get the drinks during happy hour,” said Bruce Bennett visiting Florida with his wife, Janet, from Pennsylvania.
The couple had no idea the Spring Hill Sonic location was shut down by health inspectors just last week with 21 violations including an expired license. The inspector also reported finding live roaches in the dish area, by the fryer, under the soft serve ice cream machine and even in a box of wrappers for customers’ food.
“I wish I knew that before I got here today,” said Bennett after finishing his meal.
“It’s unhealthy,” said Janet Bennett. “I’m flabbergasted. I mean, I just can’t find words. It’s disgusting! It’s absolutely disgusting.”
We showed the full inspection report to the Bennetts’ and other customers. Along with all the roaches, customers seemed concerned to hear the location was ordered to throw out their ice after the inspector found the ice chute filled with mold.
“We just got slushies,” said Manual Ortega who had just ordered with two friends. “I wanna go over there and tell them we want a refund now. That’s gross.”
The state did clear this location to reopen a day after their emergency closure, so 10Investigates stopped in checking to see if conditions were really cleaned up.
“I can’t say anything right now,” said an employee who identified himself as the Assistant Manager. “The person who is in charge is not here today.”
The employee told us he wasn’t authorized to allow our camera inside the kitchen so we asked if he could call his supervisors to ask for permission.
“Most of them are enjoying their days off and I don’t like to bug anyone on their days off. That’s why they have me here running the place,” the assistant manager said.
“It’s all cleaned up. They wouldn’t have let us open the doors back up if it wasn’t.”
But some customers didn’t seem satisfied with the restaurant’s response.
“I’ll never eat here again,” said Bruce Bennett. I mean that’s the bottom line. I will never eat here again.”
In response to a request for additional information on action taken after the closure, Sonic’s corporate office sent us the following statement:
“Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your inquiries about the Spring Hill, Fla. location. On June 15, this location was closed due to a pest issue.
The franchisee who owns and operates the Spring Hill location has increased pest control measures and the drive-in re-opened on June 16. The drive-in remains vigilant in continuing to resolve the issue and is awaiting re-inspection in the next few days.
The franchisee takes food safety very seriously and all food safety issues are acted upon immediately. They appreciate the trust and confidence our customers place in SONIC every day to serve them delicious and safe food. They take pride in being a good community partner and are proud of the service their employees provide to customers every day in Spring Hill.”