BRANDON, Fla. - Renee Matheny and her husband, Tom, enjoy eating at Estela's Mexican Restaurant on Brandon Blvd. in Brandon. But they didn't know about its recent closure.
"Are you surprised they were shut down by the state two weeks ago?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.
"Definitely, very surprised," Renee said.
On February 23, a state inspector closed Estela's doors for 24 hours after finding live roaches behind and inside the freezer gaskets in the kitchen.
So Ryan went into Estela's restaurant to get some answers.
"We don't have that problem in the restaurant," said Estela Jorgensen, the restaurant owner.
"You mean the roaches?" asked Ryan.
"Yeah, we don't have that problem," Jorgensen said again.
Jorgensen explained that she wasn't at the eatery during that inspection last month but says there was a definite communication problem between her employees and the inspector.
"They don't understand because it was an Indian inspector that came over and my guys only speak Spanish. They don't speak English," said Jorgensen.
During that same February inspection, 20 pounds of chicken had to be tossed out because the inspector found it being improperly cooled and sitting out at 104 degrees, but Jorgensen disagrees with those findings.
"I don't think so because it was very, very hot because they just finished cooking and they take it off. And apparently the inspector walked in. He doesn't speak Spanish. They don't speak English." Jorgensen said.
"So you think the inspector made a mistake?" asked Ryan.
"He's from India. He's not even American, you know," Jorgensen said.
Jorgensen also said she's been on maternity leave and simply not around.
"You know when the owner is not at the restaurant, the employees get away with whatever they want," she added.
But Jorgensen says she's coming back full time and has already started making changes to the staff.
"I hired a new manager. I hired new companies to clean up the place and I also want to be here every day working on this place," she said.
And she claims everything is now up to code.
"I keep everything really nice. He uses gloves, he has things in his hair. So everything is very perfect here, nice and clean," Jorgensen said.
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