TEMPLE TERRACE, Florida -- Applebee's Neighbhoorhood Grill & Bar advertises "Good Food... Good People." But what some say wasn't so good was the Temple Terrace location's March 28 state inspection when the restaurant racked up 19 violations, six onsidered high priority.
Among the issues were tomato sauce held on the steam table at an improper temperature; a sanitizing solution bucket stored right above food on the prep surface; and plenty of roaches. One dead roach was found in the drink station ice bin, and more than 30 live roaches were found running around throughout the kitchen.
The inspector also found the dish washing machine not properly sanitizing cups and plates used by previous customers. The machine was in such disrepair the inspector ordered employees to wash dishes by hand until the machine could be fixed.
The 19 violations prompted the state to issue a temporary emergency closure.
"Oh, my God, that is horrible! I didn't know this," said a shocked Gabriella Gutierrez on her way out from eating an early dinner with her sister. "That's my health that I'm putting at risk, and my sister's health as well. So that's horrible."
We paid a visit to the Temple Terrace Applebee's to find out what was going on inside the kitchen. It took some time, but a member of management eventually emerged from the kitchen, only to provide us with a telephone number for the company's corporate office.
We asked for permission to take a look inside the kitchen; we were told, "Absolutely not."
The company's corporate office in Tampa did email us a written statement, which reads:
"Applebee's and Neighborhood Restaurant Partners have the highest regard for the health and welfare of our guests. We have and always will take immediate and effective measures to ensure compliance with the health department. The restaurant was closed while we thoroughly addressed this situation, and the health department cleared the restaurant to open the same day."
Customers, however, were not too happy to hear Applebee's was unwilling to show us inside their kitchen.
"It's completely filthy and makes me want to immediately leave and wonder why they're not shut down now," said Charon Felder, visiting from out of state.
We showed Charon and her family the complete inspection report on their way in to eat.
"Just so many ... just so many violations," said Moneque Hagwood. "There was a dead roach and they did not clean it up ... they didn't clean it up!"
The family says they too will be finding a new place to eat in the neighborhood.
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