After Los Mayas reopened, 10 News found the tortilla chip storage area infested with roaches
Clearwater, Florida- Every night the dining room of Los Mayas Mexican Restaurant is filled with families.
"We got a chimichanga with chicken and cheese and rice," said one mother who was out to eat with her children.
But customers say they had no idea a state inspector shut the restaurant down as a temporary emergency closure August 8th after finding 32 violations, 10 considered to be high priority.
Among the issues, employees were touching ready-to-eat food with their bare hands; there was a black/green mold-like substance inside the ice machine; there was no soap or paper towels at an employee hand sink and insects were contaminating the food.
Both dead and live roaches were found in ice used for drinks, another dead roachwas found in a batch of tortilla chips, and there too many fruit flies to count in a pineapple vinegar mix used for food in the back prep area.
PHOTOS: Roaches, spiders crawl in kitchen of Mexican restaurant
The state inspector returned the following day to find more temperature violations, and ordered the restaurant to throw out its beef, chicken, rice, cooked vegetables and refried beans- a total of nearly 250 pounds of food stored at dangerous temperatures between 49 and 80 degrees.
"That's a little alarming to me," said Tom Lewis, visiting with his family from Ohio.
So this week, we stopped in to see if things had improved since the state allowed this restaurant to reopen.
After we were given permission to come inside the kitchen, we first headed over to the tortilla chips where we met up with owner, Lorenzo Castrejon.
It didn't take long, before we started finding insects crawling around the uncovered containers.
The owner seemed surprised and said he was concerned, and recently hired a new pest control company.
But that was just the beginning. In the dry food storage area, we found more uncovered containers- one a large barrel of rice with a live roach crawling inside. There were also live spiders.
There were also rotting onions right next to the drain for the dishwashing machine.
We did find some improvements, however, including soap and paper towels at all the employee hand sinks, and most food up off the floor.
Many other violations remained, including food left uncovered in the walk-in cooler, ground beef sitting at lukewarm temperatures for an unknown period of time, and the presence of insects- including at least one that made its way into the dining room, much to the displeasure of customers.
"It's kind of disgusting. It's nasty; it's not good, and there's no telling what's in this taco meat," said Brittany Rawlings who was celebrating her son's birthday.
She admits seeing a roach crawl across their table, but had no idea what was going on in the kitchen.
"You just changed my appetite," said Rawlings who packed up her family and decided to eat somewhere else.
"I don't want to be sick... or my kids!"
The restaurant's owner maintains he's working hard to get remaining issues corrected and insists his food is safe.
"I'm concerned and I'll make sure everything will be back to normal," he said.
Follow 10 News Reporter Beau Zimmer on twitter @Zimm10
Beau Zimmer, 10 News