Dirty Dining: Live roaches close down popular diner for a day

As dishes get cleaned inside this diner, it looks like all is in order.

But just a few weeks ago, state inspectors saw more than two dozen roaches crawling all over the kitchen and shut the place down for 24 hours.

ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan visited the eatery and met manager George Kokoris.

Kokoris brought her behind the kitchen doors inside Pete's Restaurant on Main Street in Dunedin so he could show she her where the roaches were discovered.

"In the bottom there, and I clean it and I paint it. So everything's clean," Kokoris said.

Inspectors found 29 live and dead roaches in April in the food prep cart, near a shelf, on the walls, on a detergent box near the hand sink, inside plastic wrapping of tin pans and around the dry storage near the dish machine.

"They don't normally shut you down unless they truly feel like the public is at risk," Ryan told Kokoris.

"No, I understand," he replied.

But that's not the only problem Kokoris faced in April.

Inspectors spotted cold food at hazardous temperatures and workers with no proof of required state-approved employee training. They also found batter in the walk-in cooler that had been held more than 24 hours with a date marked.
Now Kokoris says changes have been implemented.

"We have everything date-marked now," Kokoris said.

"So you put this all in place just in the last month?" Ryan asked.

"Everything, everything," he replied.

"So you learned a lot by him coming by?" asked Ryan.

"Definitely yes, yes," Kokoris added.

But food safety rules were broken last year, too.

Pete's Restaurant had to throw out 10 pounds of gyro meat because of dangerous temperatures and because the food was prepared in a private home. That's a high-priority violation.

Ryan read verbatim what was on the report, "They said the gyro meat (was) cooked at establishment and then cooled at a private residence, returned to establishment with temperatures at 67 degrees."

But Kokoris denied it happened.

"No ma'am. No, I don't bring it home," he said.

Kokoris says his wife owns the diner but he runs the place.

"Do you do a thorough cleaning every day?" Ryan asked.

"Yes, yes, yes," Kokoris responded adamantly.

And he wants his patrons to know he's trying.

"We clean. We have no problem. And we try our best to make our customers happy," Kokoris said.