Dirty Dining: Inspectors temporarily close popular buffet after seeing roaches, rodents and insects

Lora Wilson has been coming to Teppanyaki Grill and Supreme Buffet on 34th St. N. in St. Petersburg since it opened and says employees keep the place pretty clean.

"The way they bring the food out, and the way they keep the floor clean inside the dining room area, and everything, it is just awesome," Lora said.

Not so awesome? What inspectors found the other day.

"Did you know the restaurant was shut down recently?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.

"No, I didn't," Lora responded.

On April 24, 2014 the state made Teppanyaki Grill temporarily close after seeing over 55 live roaches inside the soap dispensing machine, near the dish area, shelving, and sushi station. So Ryan went inside to find out what happened.

"So they wrote up quite a few violations. Were you surprised? Did you know the kitchen was like this?" Ryan asked Kevin Zheng, the manager of Teppanyaki Grill.

"I didn't know that, you know,"  Zheng said in a surprised tone. He mentioned that he's been in charge of the restaurant for the last year.

"They shut you down for 17 1/2 hours?" asked Ryan.

"Yeah," Zheng answered.

"So you cleaned everything?" Ryan followed up with.

"I cleaned everything," Zheng responded.

But it wasn't just dozens of live roaches inspectors discovered in the kitchen.

"What about the rodent problem? You had 22 droppings under the prep table and near the canned goods?" asked Ryan.

"Also we clean everything," Zheng said.
 
Zheng walked Ryan around the buffet stations, explaining how they keep all the food safe to eat.

"So do you check the temperatures constantly to make sure they're right?" Ryan asked.

"It's very hot. You can see the burn," Zheng said, pointing to the steam coming off the buffet line.

But that wasn't the case last month, when inspectors say tofu used in the miso soup was at a temperature that could make customers sick.

So Zheng took Ryan behind the kitchen doors, showing us the fixed dish machine, which wasn't sanitizing in December, costing the restaurant a $600 fine from the state.  

"So they adjusted the sanitary level to make sure it works?" Ryan asked.

"Right, morning time I come and check it out," Zheng responded.

But we observed other violations documented by inspectors recently still not fixed, including raw chicken thawing in standing water, raw beef sitting out and food not protected from contamination.
 
But Zheng believes his restaurant is now safe for customers.
 
"So no more problems right?" Ryan asked

"Yeah, no more problems. I guarantee it," Zheng answered.

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