TAMPA, Florida—Founded right here in Florida back in 1968, Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q is known for its southern hospitality and slow-smoked taste.
"I usually go with their unlimited sliced pork. That's probably what I like best," said customer Prashand Myla.
"The taste, the seasoning. All of it. It's so good," said another customer, Kasandrae Quandt, who considers Sonny's one of her favorite restaurants.
What wasn't so good? The April 9th inspection report for the Sonny's on Adamo Drive near Brandon. A state health inspector ordered an emergency closure after documenting 28 violations, including an employee spotted touching dirty items then not properly washing hands; improper temperature on the macaroni and cheese; three live roaches found on a glue trap near the drive-thru window; and rodent activity. Over 275 rodent droppings were found throughout the kitchen, in the dry storage room, behind the bar area, near the dish washing machine, in the employee bathroom, and seven on the cutting board!
The inspector also ordered a stop sale on a pound of sugar found with chew marks on the bag.
Customers who tried to stop in for lunch a week earlier say they were turned away, unaware of the emergency closure.
"We came here last week and we seen a whole bunch of cars blocked," said Quandt. "We wondered why. I didn't know that."
"Rodents? No. Ick," said customer Diane Sapp. "No, that's not sanitary for a restaurant. I don't think I'll be back for a while."
Others seemed less concerned.
"None of those [violations] bothered me to the point that they'd make me not eat here," said Jim Hudson on his way out of the restaurant. "Had I gotten the report today, I still would have gone in there and eaten today."
Another violation we found on Sonny's inspection report was the accumulation of a "black or green mold like substance" inside the ice machine. We reviewed the entire inspection history for the Adamo Drive Sonny's location dating back to 2012 and found that same violation on almost every single report.
"Why hasn't it been cleaned up earlier?" asked Dot Kriney. "That would bother me."
With that question in mind, 10 News stopped in hoping to see just how cleaned up the kitchen really was.
When we asked for permission to take a look in the kitchen, we were told that would not be possible. "No. We can't do that," said the restaurant manager.
Chase Wagner, from the Kansas City based Crossroads Public Relations firm e-mailed us a statement on behalf of Sonny's BBQ:
"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to respond to your story regarding the health inspection at Sonny's BBQ in Brandon, FL. The violations were corrected promptly and the restaurant has already re-opened after clearing inspection. We are committed to ensuring we continue to receive positive reports as we have at this location for at least the last two years. All of our locations follow strict health and sanitation standards that meet or exceed county, state and federal health regulations. At Sonny's BBQ, taking care of our guests is our number one priority. We value the relationships we share with our guests and are committed to serving only the highest quality products and providing an enjoyable atmosphere. We look forward to serving our signature slow--‐smoked BBQ to our loyal guests in Brandon with our friendly Southern hospitality for many years to come."
The restaurant was cleared to reopen the following day with zero remaining violations.
Customers say they will be keeping an eye on Sonny's future inspections.
"I just hope that they've taken care of the problem and that the health inspector keeps coming out to take care of it," said customer Eric Raynal.
Click here to take a look at the Adamo Drive Sonny's entire inspection history.