WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Nestled on a beautiful lake with great views, Harborside Restaurant on 7th Street Southwest in Winter Haven is a large restaurant with a large menu to match. Their focus is on seafood, but inspectors have focused on some problems in the kitchen.
Twice over the past 12 months, the state ordered the restaurant to throw out food because it was being held at too warm a temperature.
Most recently, in July, the restaurant had to toss 50 pounds of oysters. Last year, they had to throw out ten pounds of gator meat, ten pounds of lobsters, ten pounds of shrimp and five pounds of snapper. The items are supposed to be kept at 41 degrees or below -- but inspectors found that the storage temperatures were too high.
Overall, Harborside Restaurant received 53 critical violations from state inspectors in twelve months. It was forced to shut down on July 15 after inspectors discovered 15 live roaches inside an old warmer and five roaches on the prep area floor.
The restaurant was also cited for thawing potentially hazardous food in standing water, keeping fish and shrimp at too warm a temperature, and storing raw chicken over onions in a reach-in cooler.
Matt Hollocks, the owner's son and general manager, said that after the July 15 inspection, the restaurant did a major cleaning and opened back up after less than 12 hours.
He added that the temperature violations were due to a 20-year-old refrigerator that needed to be replaced. Hollocks said they've stopped using it.
Hollocks also sent an email response that can be read in its entirety below.
"Hi I spoke with Jackie about the report on our family restaurant.
From the calls I've been receiving about the clips that have been on, they felt it was a very unjustified portrayal of the restaurant.
We run a very clean operation and will continue to do so and this must be true from the fact that we continue to open every day at 11am. The shut down was due to a main cooler malfunction which has been rectified, it is an issue we deal with because of the age of the equipment and the establishment, something that happens especially this time of year with the high heat and old cooling units.
I would also like to point out that the harborside has been in business over 30 years and we have never had an issue with people ever getting sick from anything that we serve. As are regular customers are aware we are doing a lot of reconstruction to bring the old place back to life.
Hygiene is our main priority and to class us as a dirty dining location is completely unjustified.
Regular inspections and numerous clearances from the health department illiterate that fact, if we didn't work in a clean safe environment then we wouldn't be open.
We are a small family business that is trying to stay open in this hard economy and to portray us in such an unjustly manner will most defiantly be a huge detriment to our business and the employment of our staff.
I'll be watching the reports to see how we are being portrayed and if need be take legal action."
Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Top Money Headlines