YBOR CITY, Fla. - On the upper deck at Cetro Ybor, Hamburger Mary's Bar & Grille is a popular place for all ages. But on February 29, the agency in charge of inspecting Florida restaurants got a disturbing tip from a former employee.
In the complaint obtained by 10 News, the employee described rat droppings throughout the restaurant, in the bar area near glasses, and behind the beer tap. The employee went on to report tables had to be wiped down every morning to remove rat droppings and that rodents even made appearances during regular dining hours spotted by customers and employees.
"If the place is that bad, and the employee is saying that, it should be shut down until it is rectified," said Centro Ybor visitor Christina Expotsito.
The former employee's complaint prompted a visit by a state inspector the following week, who documented nearly 80 rodent droppings all over the restaurant, in the server area, near the soft drink cooler, by the dish washers, and near an ice machine. The inspector also ordered a stop sale on 24 gallons of chili not properly cooled after being prepared the night before.
We decided to pay Hamburger Mary's a visit of our own to find out if those issues had been addressed. But when we showed up and asked to look in the kitchen, we were told, "No way!"
Owner Kurt King, who later spoke to us on camera outside the restaurant, insists problems documented by the state weren't that bad to begin with. "The pest control came in and within two hours we were back open again," he said. "We were proactive on fixing the issue and we took care of it right away. We've passed every other inspection we've ever had."
But customers are left wondering if the rats are really gone for good.
"A rodent issue is not just something you can get rid of overnight," said Expotsito. "Sometimes there are smaller ones up in the attic."
King told 10 News he wants to assure customers the issues were dealt with right away. "Hamburger Mary's is a safe place. We're constantly keeping it clean and we're doing everything we can do to be proactive."
Hamburger Mary's had a total of 11 critical violations and one non-critical violation. You can view the restaurant's initial March 6th full inspection here, or check out their entire inspection history on the Department of Business and Professional Regulation webpage.
Take a look at some of our past Restaurant Red Alert Reports:
Classic Homestyle Buffet, Tampa 1/11/12
Frank's Family Restaurant, Hernando 1/18/12
Big Easy Cajun, Brandon TownCenter 1/25/12
CiCi's Pizza, Kenneth City 2/1/12
China Express, Brandon 2/8/12
Daiquiri Deck, Maderia Beach 2/15/12
Athenian Garden, Tyrone Area, St. Pete 2/22/12
Bob Evans (Ulmerton Road), Pho 97 (Pinellas Park), Kobe Japanese Steak House (New Tampa) 2/29/12
China Jade, Carrollwood, 3/7/12
Nicki's West 59th (Bradenton), Top's China Buffet (Brandon), 400 Beach (St. Petersburg) 3/14/12