LARGO, Fla. - "We're Brits, so we know about Indian food," said Francine McGovern, who thoroughly enjoyed the 'all you can eat' lunch buffet at Deeya Indian Cuisine on East Bay Drive in Largo with her friend, Madeleine Kirby.
"Tell me about the food," said ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan, as they were standing outside the restaurant.
"Fantastic!" Francine said with enthusiasm.
"I enjoyed everything I had. They had lamb and chicken. And the rice was excellent," Madeleine added.
But they had no idea what happened the week before. From February 7 to February 11 Deeya's was shut down by the state after inspectors found over 100 live and dead roaches near the coolers, prep table, walls and hot water heater in the kitchen.
So Ryan walked into the eatery to find out what happened.
"I am on my customers' side. I am on my business's side, not on the roaches' side," said Mona, who has owned the restaurant for seven years. She did not want to give her last name.
"It was a mistake that we had roaches, but it's not our fault. We were under a pest control contract," Mona explained.
Mona also said that pest control company was not doing its job. But it wasn't the first time inspectors found an insect issue. They documented over a dozen roaches in October of 2011 too.
"About the cockroach problem, I think you can go to any restaurant in Florida and there is a problem," Mona said.
Most recently, inspectors also discovered a rat trap on top of a rice bag in the dry storage area and employees using their bare hands on cilantro.
"We work hard 12-14 hours a day and do our best to please our customers," Mona responded.
On December 13, 2012, the state documented beef, chicken, milk, and rice pudding all at improper temperatures on the buffet, the walk-in cooler and the reach-in cooler. Since it was a repeat violation, they fined the restaurant $200 and issued an administrative complaint.
"Do you want to show us the kitchen and show the public how clean you are?" asked Ryan.
"No it's ok, Ma'am. People will know," Mona said.
Mona takes every inspection to heart, as she says her customers are like her family.
"In my religion, they say your customer is like your God because they are giving you something. So I don't want to harm them at all," Mona explains.
And some customers will return, regardless of what's happened in the past.
"I should probably come back again," said Francine.
"You still would?" Ryan asked Madeleine.
"Oh yes, I would," Madeleine answered.
For more of Wendy Ryan's Dirty Dining reports, visit www.abcactionnews.com/dining .
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