ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. - After two decades of owning Skidder's Restaurant on Gulf Blvd. in St. Pete Beach, Ted Skiadiotis admits keeping employees on their toes is a challenge.
"22 years we are open and we want to serve good food. Any restaurant owner will tell you, you can go to any restaurant, these are constant issues. The human factor - people leave something out for an extra hour," Skiadiotis said.
And that might be what happened recently. On November 1st, state inspectors found sausage, cut ham, sliced ham, center-cut ham, and shredded cheddar not cold enough in the reach-in cooler and sausage links not hot enough.
So Skiadiotis took ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan on a tour to show her the kitchen and the changes they've made.
"In every case, we've tried wholeheartedly to correct it," he added.
And Skidder's had many cases to correct lately.
According to an inspection in May, the state again discovered cut sausage, sausage links, and egg whites at dangerous temperatures. And they issued a stop sale on meatballs because they were not properly cooled and could make customers sick.
"I'm not going to argue that we didn't have a stop sale. We did. It was fixed. We were told what to do to prevent it," Skiadiotis explained.
And with similar food safety issues a few months before that in January with butter, ham, shredded cheese, sliced cheese and sausage links at improper temperatures, Skiadiotis says procedures have now changed with food logs documented regularly.
"So now your tracking all the temperatures?" asked Ryan.
"Of course! Anything to help us do our job in a better way, we're never going to argue with," he responded.
Manager Gus Vartsakis has worked at Skidder's for 12 years and admits employees sometimes slack off.
"It can happen and I train them every day. Right now, nobody's here, so everybody's doing the job right. But when it's busy, they might forget to do something," Vartsakis said.
Other high priority violations in 2013 include employees not washing their hands, using their bare hands on ready to eat foods along with raw products stored over ready to eat items, a cross contamination issue.
"We're trying wholeheartedly not to do something to get anybody sick or to impinge on the quality of what we're serving," said Skiadiotis. And he wants to assure all customers, he feeds his family at the restaurant and the food is safe.
"You wouldn't serve something you wouldn't eat yourself?" asked Ryan.
"No and I will fire someone if I see them doing something I wouldn't do," he added.
Skidder's Restaurant Statement:
On behalf of our staff, and especially our treasured customers, our family has tried for over 21 years to provide an atmosphere, where the cleanliness and the quality of our food has been of the utmost importance. We take all violations very seriously, and work diligently to them as soon as possible. The restaurant is treated like a second home, and it is unfortunate that the term "dirty" is being associated with our name. We take huge umbrage to this, yet also understand the value to the community that Wendy provides with her segment, and will use this forum to continue to improve. It has been a huge honor to serve customers and friends alike daily these last two decades throughout the United States, as well as internationally. We are proud of our restaurant, and over the years have proven we are constantly looking to provide the highest quality, whether it be homemade gluten free pizza and pastas, to all natural hormone free proteins, as well as organic grits and pastas. Our restaurant will never waver in upholding our reputation, and the high standards we have set for ourselves and our employees.
The Skiadiotis Family
(Skidder's Restaurant Owner)