ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - It's the first stop in the morning for folks all over the Bay area hungry for a bagel or some coffee. The Einstein Bros Bagels on 4th Street North in St. Petersburg is popular with customers, but a state health inspector discovered what some might consider a possible hole in the bagel restaurant's sanitation plan.
Customer Jennifer Lopez said Einstein Bros is a regular stop on her way to work.
"It's convenient. I work right down the street and it's good," said Lopez.
That's why she was so surprised to find out about potential problems inside the kitchen at the 4th Street Einstein Brothers Bagels which was written up by the state with 13 violations January 7.
"Oh, my god ... are you serious," asked a shocked Lopez.
State records show the issues included an employee handling cash who failed to wash their hands before putting on gloves, soiled residue on multiple kitchen counters, and roach activity, with 30 live roaches found around the kitchen including on old bagel.
"I'm sorry, that's so gross! Dead roaches," said Lopez.
But that's not all. The state also documented rodent droppings, with 23 found next to the kitchen sink and more inside manager's office.
"I'm like traumatized," said Lopez. "How is that possible?"
Other customers were more understanding, especially after the state allowed Einstein Bros to reopen the very same day.
"I would assume, after they've been on notice they're one of the cleaner restaurants around," said customer Bob Buchanan, who decided to eat at Einstein Bros even after hearing about the previous emergency closure.
Following up on the state's inspection, last week 10 News stopped by the restaurant hoping to see improved conditions. Inside we found less than spotless conditions, lots of crumbs, food residue, and used gloves on the floor. When we asked for permission to take a closer look behind the counter, we were provided a phone number for Einstein Bros corporate public relations.
"They said you'll have to call our corporate office on that," said an employee behind the counter.
We also wanted to see a copy of the restaurant's inspection report, something they're required by law to show to anyone who asks.
"My supervisor just advised me that number is all the information I can provide you," said another employee.
And while some customers decided to give Einstein Bros a second chance, Lopez said she won't be back anytime soon.
"NO! Never, never again," said Lopez. "I don't care if they clean it up, I'm never eating there again. Oh ... that's so bad!"
A spokesperson for Einstein Bros Bagels said while the company does not permit camera crews into their kitchen, they did send the following written statement:
"At Einstein Bros. Bagels, we are committed to providing the highest quality experience for our guests, and that includes the food we serve and the condition of our restaurants. We take any report to the contrary very seriously and put corrective actions in place immediately. Our team at the 4th Street restaurant worked diligently in cooperation with the local health department to address these issues and the location was re-opened with the inspector's approval within hours. We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused to our loyal customers."
While the restaurant was allowed to reopen, they still had seven remaining violations on their follow up inspection by the state.
Click here to see a copy of that latest report.
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