SEMINOLE, Fla. - Rossala Bootin dines at Suzie Q's Diner on Seminole Blvd. in Seminole almost every day and she's not alone. About 300 meals are served there daily.
"My friends come here. I mean, I know tons of people who come here," Bootin said.
But the restaurant has been graded harshly by the state, facing 61 critical violations over a 15-month period from August 23, 2010 to November 16, 2011.
So ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan went behind the kitchen door to talk to the owner.
"I've had the same thing going on in this restaurant for almost 14 years," Suzie McConnell said, who owns the diner.
McConnell told Ryan she doesn't understand all the new violations, since it's never been a problem before.
"She's informed us that I'm not allowed to have the butters out anymore. But the other inspectors never said anything," McConnell said, talking about the current state inspector, assigned to her eatery.
In November, the state inspector found a list of food at too warm a temperature. Ham, spinach, mushroom, and cheese as well as sausage and sausage links were above 41 degrees, the minimum requirement by the state. The inspector also ordered a stop sale on over 240 creamers because they were at 76 degrees.
And that wasn't the only stop sale. On August 23, 2010 cheese, scrapple, sausage, burger, and other items had to be thrown out because of temperature issues. They were all measured between 57 and 71 degrees and again, they should have been 41 degrees or below.
McConnell blames the new list of violations on a new inspector who has been particularly tough on her.
"I think she's more strict. I know she's got a job to do, but if she's going to be strict, then the other ones should have been just as strict as she was. Don't come in all of a sudden, and throw my creamers away and tell me I can't leave my butters out, when I've been doing this for 13 years. I mean it's crazy!" McConnell said passionately.
During the latest inspection on November 15, 2011, live and dead roaches were also documented near the dish area, dish machine, sink, and ceiling.
"What about the roach issue? Did you know?" asked Ryan.
"There was a palmetto bug that was up in the thing. And we get them when I get my food trucks in. It's just not possible to keep them out of here," McConnell explained.
In March and August of 2010 the state issued Suzie Q's Diner two administrative complaints after warning the staff for not washing their hands, changing gloves and not staying in compliance. The two penalties total $1,250 in fines, which McConnell paid.
And she says she works around the clock and does the best she can.
"You serve safe food? That's what most people want to know," Ryan asked.
"I've never had anybody become sick in my restaurant. Not one person," McConnell said emphatically.
And restaurant fans like Bootin will be back.
"This is convenient for me and pleasant. And the prices are good and the food's good," Bootin said.
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