ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Cassandra Cummings enjoys dining out in downtown St. Petersburg because of the many different types of food you can find.
"I eat out in St. Pete pretty often. There are a lot of good local restaurants around here. It's kind of a good vibe," Cassandra said.
But that good vibe didn't follow state inspectors inside India Grill on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg during two different visits.
"The restaurant behind you, India Grill, was shut down twice in March and April because of a roach infestation," ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan said to Cassandra.
"It would not be a place that I'd go back to," Cassandra responded.
According to the inspection report, on April 24, 2013, the restaurant was closed for almost 24 hours after inspectors found live roaches where food was being prepared and eight glue-traps filled with dead roaches. And it wasn't the first time inspectors found insects crawling in the kitchen.
On March 25, 2013, another closure was issued after inspectors discovered 27 live roaches roaming around the cook's line.
So how are conditions now? Ryan went inside the restaurant to find out.
"Can I speak with a manager or owner?" Ryan asked.
"No, he's not here," an India Grill employee responded.
Other high-priority issues discovered in March included cooked vegetables at a dangerous temperature, employees using their bare hands on ready-to-eat foods, and employees with no certified training.
After speaking to India Grill's owner, Manny Gupta, on the phone, he sent Ryan a statement saying in part, "As per the requirements of the health department, the employee training is ongoing for safety and hygiene. Our employee is taking the food manager certification on 5/6/13."
And regarding the roach infestation, he went on to say, "We are also very disappointed with the pest problem. We are working our best, seriously and aggressively to take care of this issue and comply with the codes." Scroll down to see the statement in its entirety.
But consumers like Cassandra feel training staff cannot be taken lightly.
"You want to have the best employees in your restaurant. And you also want employees who know what they're doing. And how to handle food safely," Cassandra said.
INDIA GRILL'S FULL STATEMENT:
This is in reference to India Grill in down town St.Pete. I would like to bring it to your kind notice that when we came to know about the roach problem we immediately called our pest control company and they did the needful on the very same day and next day health department gave us the permission to re open the establishment after thorough inspection. Again in April when we were inspected, and the dead roaches were found in the traps placed by the pest control company we took the the immediate action and called Orkin our pest control company,they did the fumigation in entire area and performed the needful interventions. Next day the health department did the survey again and gave us the permission to reopen the business. As per the requirements of health deptt., the employee training is ongoing for safety and hygiene.Our employee is taking food manager certification on 05/06/2013. The main chef is already a certified food manager.We are also very disappointed with the pest problem.We are working our best,seriously and aggressively to take care of this issue and comply with the codes.Just for your information we are located in the condo building where a lot of renovation is going on around in neighborhood resulting the pests to move around and creep through any possible area.There are lots of buildings around which are closed for a long time and harboring these bugs.Just to let you know we have our own pest control company in addition to the pest control company hired by the condo association.We are working our best on these issues and committed to provide our best as always.Thank you so much for your concerns.
Indian Grill's Owner