ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Every week, 10News exposes dirty restaurants putting the public’s health at risk in our popular Restaurant Red Alert reports. Over the past year, reporter Beau Zimmer has seen just about every violation imaginable.
And, while some restaurants do a great job of cleaning up, others don't. Some are even shut down multiple times and fined by the state.
Here’s a look back at our top 10 most shocking and memorable Restaurant Red Alert reports from 2019.
10) Sushi Spice (Seminole)
This restaurant located along the 7500 block of Starkey Road in Seminole was shut down twice in the first two months of 2019. We visited the establishment in February and while the restaurant showed signs of some improvement we still found multiple rodent droppings in the dishwashing area. The restaurant’s manager showed us a drain she would cover nightly where she suspected the rodent activity was coming from.
9) Oysters Restaurant
This was one of our first Restaurant Red Alert Reports from 2019.
This mom and pop seafood restaurant in Crystal River was shut down twice at the beginning of the year with some major violations including rodent droppings in a coffee filter and moldy chicken.
The restaurant's owner came out to answer questions but would not allow our camera into the kitchen saying, “we’re still working on it.” The owner later came outside screaming, making this one of our most memorable reports of the year.
8) Sabor a Mexico
This restaurant was memorable for the sheer number of violations written up by the state including a restaurant employee “scratching his crotch” then not washing their hands.
The restaurant allowed us into the kitchen and had clearly taken major steps to clean up. And, while things looked much better, we still found a few remaining problems including ants crawling around in a bucket of food. The restaurant’s new manager immediately threw out the bucket and told us the establishment is a safe place to eat.
7) Sea Hut
This Palmetto seafood restaurant was shut down three times in 2019. They refused to answer any questions when we stopped by to visit in June of 2019.
The restaurant told us the owner would be coming to speak with us but instead called the sheriff’s office to have us kicked off the property.
6) Steak ‘n Shake #384 (N. Dale Mabry, Tampa)
The location across from Gaither High School was shut down after a health inspector found a long list of violations including a moldy milk dispenser. When the inspector returned records show the milk dispenser had not been cleaned.
When 10News showed up a week later the Steak N Shake manager told us, “I’m not talking to you” and even suggested we had the wrong location. A spokesperson from Steak N Shake’s corporate office called the failing inspection unacceptable.
5) Waffle House #96 (E Fowler Ave.)
It was all smiles when we first walked in. But, when we started asking questions about this Waffle House location’s health code violations, employees quickly became enraged and unwilling to answer any questions.They were unwilling to bring out a copy of the restaurant’s latest inspection report as required under Florida law.
4) Deccan Spice
This is another Restaurant Red Alert Repeat Offender.
When 10News stopped by to ask about this Indian restaurant's long list of violations, an employee told us to wait outside and the owner would come outside to speak with us.
We waited and waited but the owner never came out. We later found him near the back kitchen door and confronted him about his restaurant’s history of violations.
3) Dosa Hut
Health inspectors reported finding this restaurant filled with roaches, including one in the food processor.
The owner did not want to appear on camera but allowed us into the kitchen where we found evidence of more insect activity including a live roach crawling right under the children’s high chairs.
2) Royal Sweets
We’ll never forget the photo a code enforcement officer took showing what appeared to be a large rat in the front window of this Tampa establishment.
The photo triggered a visit by state health inspectors who temporarily shut the business down with numerous health code violations. But, when 10News showed up to check on if the issues were resolved, the establishment’s owner denied there were any serious problems. Video from the garbage dumpster out back and inside the restaurant’s walk-in cooler proved otherwise.
1) Siam Garden
Sometimes restaurant owners aren’t happy to see our Restaurant Red Alert camera. In perhaps one of the most memorable Restaurant Red Alert reports of all time, reporter Beau Zimmer and Photojournalist Albert Gamboa got hosed down by the owner who didn’t want to answer any questions about his restaurant’s poor inspection history.