From savory soups to unique Vietnamese Pork Chops, Clearwater’s Saigon Bowl is a hit with customers.
But, this Vietnamese restaurant is apparently not just popular with people. A health inspector with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation reported last week finding hundreds of rodent droppings inside, including 300-400 droppings on the shelves and floor of the dry storage area, another 200-250 in another area of the kitchen and more than 35 on a prep table.
“That’s disgusting, without a doubt,” said Kevin Rowland, who lives just blocks away from the restaurant.
Saigon Bowl was also written up for temperature violations on the pork dumplings, cooked beef and fish along with uncovered employee drink cups, which can make contamination from salvia more likely.
Wednesday afternoon, 10News stopped in to check on conditions in the kitchen a week after the restaurant’s state-ordered emergency closure.
“We have a little pest issue,” said Saigon Spoon manager Tim Pham. “It’s minor -- nothing major because the building is old.”
Pham told us his staff immediately got to work getting any violations corrected.
“It was very important. I wouldn’t want that in my family or in my house so instantly we fixed it,” said Pham.
To prove his point, he agreed to allow our camera inside the kitchen.
Inside, we found soap and paper towels at the employee handwashing sinks. Pham also took us by the refrigeration unit which he says was malfunctioning during last week’s state inspection and caused those temperature violations.
But, as we moved further into the kitchen we also started spotting problems. Up on a counter, we spotted an employee drink with no lid, which is something the restaurant was ordered to correct last week. We also started spotting evidence of continued roach activity.
Droppings were apparently all along the wall in the kitchen from end to end. And not just a few…there were many.
As we continued documenting the problems, the restaurant owner said he was no longer comfortable with our camera in the kitchen.
Manager Tim Pham says he is now aware of the problem and intends to take immediate action.
“Just to clean up right away,” said Pham. “I guess we have to maintain it every night.”
And that’s what some customers say they expect.
“If there’s rodent activity at night, it’s still their responsibility to come in the morning and clean up the mess,” said Rowland.
Management says it’s difficult because their restaurant shares a building and attic space with other businesses, and the rodents can move through the roof with very little to stop them.
But Rowland says he doesn’t care what it takes. He just wants a clean kitchen.
“Rodent droppings aren’t exactly my taste," Rowland said.
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