ST. PETERSBURG, Florida— Westshore Pizza is a name synonymous with Tampa.
"I've been coming here for years," said customer Jeff Tarquinto. "It's always delicious, very good pizza."
The company now operates 30 restaurants across the Tampa Bay area, one of those locations recently running into trouble with a state health inspector.
The Westshore Pizza on 22nd Ave North in St. Petersburg across from Tyrone Square Mall was shut down by the state May 5 with 12 violations including:
- an expired license,
- a stop sale on the pizza found stored on racks for an unknown period of time,
- no proof of employee training,
- rodent activity with 34 dropping found around the mop sink, and
- three more found around the floor dough mixer
10 News stopped in after learning of the emergency closure with questions about the restaurant's history of violations.
"Can you please take the camera out of my store and I can sit down and talk to you?" asked owner Michael Tokach, who off camera blamed many of the restaurant's problems on his previous partners no longer affiliated with the restaurant.
Westshore Pizza's corporate office invited us back a week later for a full tour of the cleaned up kitchen.
"It was taken care of, no issues at all," said Tokach while showing us the area where the health inspector found the droppings. We also found a hole now sealed with tape to prevent any future uninvited guests.
"It was very important. We don't want any customers to think badly of our franchise and we want them to have an enjoyable experience," said Tokach. "That was the bottom line. It was very urgent to get that issue taken care of quickly as possible."
Inside we found what appeared to be a very clean kitchen. The only problem we found was a garbage can blocking the main hand washing sink which was quickly removed.
Along with soap and paper towels stocked at the sink, we spotted a thermometer showing the walk-in cooler keeping ingredients at the proper temperature. We also found all food properly covered and stored up off the floor.
"We do have great service, we do have great food and everything has been handled to the best of my abilities that I'm able to do," said Tokach.
Take a look at the Tyrone Westshore Pizza's entire inspection history here.