Dirty Dining: Inspectors find live roaches crawling in vegan restaurant and it's not the first time

As quickly as we walked into Loving Hut, a popular vegan restaurant, we were ushered outside by a woman who claimed to be the manager but would not give us her name.

Still ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan had plenty of questions to ask.

"As you can see just at a quick glance, look at all the violations they documented," asked Ryan, showing the manager the restaurant's most recent inspection report from the state.

But the manager disagreed with the report, bragging about the conditions inside Loving Hut's kitchen on East Fletcher Avenue in Tampa.

"We do a cleaning every day. We mop every day. Everything is super clean," she said.

So Ryan showed her the inspection reports, where unwanted guests were found last month.

"Roach activity, live roaches?" asked Ryan, as she pointed to the inspection reports from May.

"Yeah, we treat them right away," the manager claimed.

But it wasn't just one time.

Inspectors tracked down roaches during three visits in 12 months, even temporarily shutting down Loving Hut last year due to a severe infestation with over 100 live roaches in the kitchen.

But the manager blamed the roaches on the old building.

"It doesn't matter how much we do," she said. "They're still sneaking through the old building. This (building) is over 30 years old."

She went on to say, "There are holes in this kind of older building. We do our best, and we often inform our landlord to fix the building up."

But the state has repeatedly warned the restaurant directly to clean up the building conditions and surrounding areas because it contributes to the presence of insects and rodents.

And those repeat violations were still visible during our visit: High grass and weeds surrounding the restaurant, old equipment and supplies scattered outside and the building in disrepair.

The eatery's dangerous food temperature violations could also make customers sick with tofu and soy protein at improper temperatures.

"So the temperature violations that (the inspector) found were not accurate?" asked Ryan.

"It's not about accurate," the manager said.

And even with 119 violations documented over the last year, the manager still disagreed with most of them.
So Ryan went through individual violations documented again.

"There were other food safety issues: Employees not washing their hands, no soap, no paper towels, food improperly cooled, food not date-marked," said Ryan, reading through the list of violations on various inspection reports.

"No, that's not correct," she said.

And after a while, it was clear the manager had had enough of Ryan's questions.

"I have to go. We are about to close, sorry about that," said the manager as she walked back into the restaurant and locked the door.