ST. PETE BEACH, Florida - The Sloppy Pelican on St. Pete Beach has amazing views, but customers say the food is just as impressive.
"The hamburger was just delicious," said customer Jean Haworth. "They said it was the best burger on the beach, and it was!"
But the Sloppy Pelican may actually be living up to its name, according to its latest health inspection report on March 14. That's when the state documented 21 basic, three intermediate, and seven HIGH PRIORITY violations, prompting an emergency closure.
Among the problems were:
- Temperature violations on the fish and sour cream
- A vegetable slicer soiled with old food debris
- Soil residue on shelves throughout the kitchen
- A hand washing sink not available for employee use
- Small flying insects in the bar area
- Close to 50 live roaches crawling on a shelf in the deli cooler and on the steamer, where the inspector found an egg sack as well
The inspector also wrote up the restaurant for using household insecticide to treat the bug problem, and for finding medication stored above the salad cooler.
We wanted to find out what was going on, so last week we stopped by to ask if the issues were corrected.
"They certainly have been," said manager Howard Wilson. "All of [the state's] concerns were addressed immediately."
But when we asked to take a look inside the kitchen ourselves, we got a quick answer. "Absolutely not," said Wilson. "We're a little busy upstairs right now. I just can't have you in right now."
Customers weren't too happy to hear about that.
"Oh, no! We're in trouble," said Haworth, concerned about what the restaurant might be hiding.
In fact, state inspectors have required six follow up inspections at the Sloppy Pelican over the past two years. They made their latest stop after receiving a complaint reporting roaches in the kitchen, employees not wearing gloves when prepping food, and even employees eating off customer trays before taking food out to the table.
"There's too many things going around, especially with not washing the hands," said Linda Cordell on her second visit to the restaurant. "That's where you get sick."
The state allowed the restaurant to reopen the following day, but with 12 remaining violations.
"It was definitely to the liking of the health inspector," said Wilson. "He was working with us, he was with us first thing in the morning, and we were open regular hours the next day."
But customers say they want to make sure the Sloppy Pelican's kitchen really is cleaned up before they'll consider eating there again.
"I think it should be clean," said Haworth. "I wouldn't eat if my kitchen was dirty, and I don't want to eat in their kitchen if it's dirty."
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