YBOR CITY, Fla. - Melina Salazar spends long hours managing Ybor City's Old Manhattan Pizza Restaurant on East 7th Avenue, but the last two weeks have been challenging. She gave ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan a tour of the kitchen to show all the repair work she has had to do recently.
"Did it leak all the way into the rest of the kitchen?" Ryan asked.
"It was all the way in the restaurant. So we had to sanitize every single place. That's why it took so long," Salazar responded.
Inspectors closed the popular pizza place for over 20 hours on January 16 because of a sewage leak with waste water backing up drains, contaminating the kitchen and restaurant.
"They sanitized everything from the back of the building to the front," Salazar explained.
Inspectors also issued a stop-sale on barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce and asparagus because they were exposed to the raw sewage.
"Did you throw out more than just the sauces?" Ryan inquired.
"We threw out all of the sauces and all of the pizzas we made that day. We threw out all of the breads we made that day. Everything that we made that day that was cooked, we had to throw out," she said.
And Salazar blames the City of Tampa's sewer system.
"We have to file a claim because it looks like it's their fault because it backed up from the manhole all the way down here to the kitchen," Salazar said.
But Old Manhattan has had other issues with the state over the last year, including critical food temperature violations during four separate inspections in February, April, July, and September of 2012.
"It looks like you had temperature violations in every inspection over the last year?" Ryan inquired.
"Yeah, we've been having problems with the coolers and the cooling system because of the heat. The motors have to work harder," Salazar responded.
In September, inspectors demanded 18 pounds of pepperoni, chicken, sausage and cold cuts be discarded because of their hazardously warm temperatures.
"We bought new equipment, but we are still working on it, trying to fix it," she said.
It still looks like a work in progress, with fans blowing and cleaning underway, but Salazar believes she's got it under control.
"It is very safe to eat in. It's sanitized and everything is in order for everybody to come in. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be open right now," Salazar said.
Ryan called the City of Tampa's Waste Management office and spoke to the Risk Manager, Michael Laperche, who explained that Old Manhattan Pizza's owner has not filed a claim yet. And they won't investigate the incident until that happens.
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