Dirty Dining: Local Mexican restaurant, Gorditas Don Huicho, shut down because of rodent droppings

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Cynthya Martinez eats at Gorditas Don Huicho on Drew Street in Clearwater about three times a week, because she lives just up the street.

"I get there's these things called empanadas with cheese.  It's pretty good. Or there's this thing called gordita and they're pretty good too," Cynthya said.

So she was shocked to hear the state recently closed the restaurant for almost a day.

"Do you know they were recently shut down because of a rodent infestation?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.

"Oh really? I didn't know that," Cynthya responded with a surprised look on her face.

So what happened?  Ryan went inside the restaurant to find out.

Inside Gorditas, at the counter was Susana Pena, the owner's sister and manager on duty.

"inspectors found 125 rodent dropping just a couple weeks ago?" Ryan asked Pena.

"Do you want to come in round and look?" Pena asked, inviting Ryan into the kitchen.

Pena had things to do, so one of her employees, Vanessa Morales, showed Ryan around.

"So where were the rodents coming in through, do you know?" Ryan asked Morales.

"That one at the top, where the tape is," Morales said, as she pointed to a net cover near the ceiling.  It was one of the repairs they've made so rodents can't get back in.

"Sometimes when it rains, the water makes it soft and the roof will break.  But right now everything is fixed," Morales explained.

We also saw rat traps both inside the kitchen's storage room and outside the back door.

But Gorditas has had a history of issues. Over the last year and a half, the restaurant tallied up 59 critical violations with inspectors returning nine times for follow up inspections.

A cooler was among the violations written up in various reports because it wasn't holding food at the proper temperature.

"I also talked to the inspector and she checked everything and everything is perfect," Morales explained.

Perfect or not, one customer may not give the place another chance.

"You will go back?" Ryan asked Cynthya.

"I won't go back," Cynthya said.

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ANOTHER RESTAURANT CLOSURE:

Angie's Grill on Drew Street in Clearwater had to close for almost 24 hours on February 18, 2013 after inspectors found over 65 live roaches in the kitchen.

We went to the eatery and spoke to the owner, Angie Chaconas. She told us she's been in business for 52 years and has never been shut down before.

Chaconas said she handled the issue immediately.  

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