CLEARWATER, Fla. - They serve up traditional Mexican food with refried beans and rice, burritos, and chips and salsa. But what inspectors found behind the kitchen door was not traditional fare.
El Chicanito Restaurant and Cantina on Gulf to Bay Blvd in Clearwater had its doors closed for almost 24 hours on November 13 after inspectors found some uninvited guests in the kitchen.
Almost 50 rodent droppings and over a dozen live and dead roaches were discovered by inspectors.
So ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan went into the restaurant to get some answers.
"Were you surprised that inspectors came in and shut the restaurant down?" Ryan asked an employee at the front desk.
"Yes," she said.
But it wasn't the first time things have been crawling in the kitchen, according to the state. Inspectors found live roaches in March of this year too.
And this Mexican eatery has had a history of issues. Over the last year and a half, 85 critical violations were documented, and inspectors had to return four times for follow up visits in November, May and twice in March of this year.
During that most recent inspection a couple weeks ago, inspectors found no certified food manager on duty. That's the same critical violation we discovered during our visit.
"There's no manager on duty?" Ryan asked.
"Not right now," the employee responded.
After her visit, Ryan called the restaurant to speak to the manager, Juventino, several times over the last week but he never returned her calls.