MADEIRA BEACH - Kristy Gray eats at Screwie Louie's South Beach Bar and Grille all the time.
"We always have fun here and the Screwie Louie shrimp is fabulous," Kristy said.
And she's not the only one who feels that way.
"Don't forget the Screwie Louie shrimp!" a local fisherman named Mark said with a smile.
Mark admitted that when he's not on the water, he's hanging out at this Gulf Blvd. hot spot in Madeira Beach.
"If I ain't out there fishing, I'm here drinking!" Mark said.
But state inspectors had an issue with the restaurant's food temperatures. On November 23, 2011, inspectors demanded Screwie Louies throw away five quarts of clam chowder because it was improperly cooled and at 64 degrees. They also found eggs, steak, pork, dairy products, and butter too warm in the cooler and grits not hot enough on the cook line.
Over the last 15 months, 65 critical violations piled up. Many repeat issues so the state conducted nine follow up inspections, filed four administrative complaints, and fined Screwie Louies $3,550.
So has the restaurant fixed the issues? We went inside the restaurant to find out.
"You've had nine follow-up inspections, four administrative complaints, a lot of issues with the temperature of the food," I said to the night manager, Joy Hart.
"OK. Let me call Lou, because I'm not really involved in that aspect of it," Hart explained.
More: See Lou's written response below
Hart also told me she mainly deals with the bar.
"I just basically watch the servers on the floor," Hart said. "Are you a certified food manager too?" I asked. "No, our kitchen chef is," she responded.
But that kitchen chef did not want to talk about what inspectors found on September 1, 2011. Those critical violations included dead roaches in the kitchen, a cooler at 61 degrees and again more temperature violations including fish, grouper, crab cakes, ham, hot dogs, sausage, and butter.
Still, Hart did not want to comment. "I think Lou would want to do it himself," Hart said.
And customers had mixed reactions about eating at Screwie Louie's again. "Not coming back to eat, but coming back for drinks because that's safe," Kristy said.
But Mark will be back to eat again once he returns from his next fishing trip. "This is my last dinner here on the beach and in 18 days I'll be back and have me another dinner here," Mark said.
Screwie Louie's South Beach Bar and Grille response via email:
I have been in the restaurant business all my life. Running a good place is very important to me. My customers are my first priority, I offer no excuses just explanations. Inspections were made the following day and everything was always corrected and fine. During the few months of these evaluations, I was extremely baffled. I have been in that location since 1999 and have never had one single problem. I have never had temperature problems with food. I am very loyal to my staff and have a very low turnover in the kitchen. There were some major changes in staff last spring when some of these things happened and the corrective actions that took place were replacement of the staff to the final point in December of the entire kitchen staff being terminated and a quality control manager being hired. Seven people lost there jobs. Although the temps were only 5-6 degrees off, there was no excuse. It was their job to make sure it was right. I spent a few thousand dollars on repairing the refrigeration until my tech insisted there was no problem with the units. At that point I began to look closer to the staff. We then did temp checks every hour, 24 hours a day and found nothing again. The place is only closed for about 3 hours a day. Orders arrive early in the morning and the coolers are open a lot at that time, putting food away so temps climb during that period and we did not notice the changes because it was not happening all the time. We finally found out what was happening when a new chef had noticed a breaker off in the morning that should not have been off. That is when we found out what was happening. Every once in awhile, the person who was closing would hit the wrong breaker when shutting the sign. We have had no problems since and my quality manager and new staff are doing a fine job. We have never had any type of problems with being dirty or bugs and rodent issues. Whenever there is a problem, a CAR (corrective action report ) is filled out and management corrects the problem.
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