TAMPA - UPDATE: MOSI officials have voluntarily shutdown its food operations so contractors can give it a thorough cleaning. ABC Action News was first to report Monday that state inspectors temporarily closed MOSI Cafe for violations. That report is below:
MOSI brags on its website about being the largest science center in the southeast and the fifth largest in the United States.
But the museum may not be bragging about its restaurant, MOSI Cafe, and what state inspectors discovered in the kitchen last week.
On March 12, MOSI Cafe was temporarily shut down by the state after inspectors found live roaches crawling in the banquet kitchen's storage area, prep table, under the soda bag in boxes and in the cappuccino machine. Inspectors also discovered roach excrement on a box of spoons.
There was also evidence of rodent activity with 40 rodent droppings discovered under the storage shelf area and on the paper goods shelf in the banquet kitchen.
We spoke to Shannon Herbon, MOSI's spokeswoman, and she acknowledged the restaurant was closed by inspectors for three hours last Wednesday. But she said it was the first time something like this had ever happened. Herbon also went on to say the museum had a pest control company spraying on a monthly basis, but after this incident, they terminated that company and hired a new one.
During this inspection, MOSI Cafe also had food temperature issues. Deli meats including turkey and ham were greater than 41 degrees, which could make customers sick. The restaurant had a similar issue in January with cold food in the cooler at improper temperatures.
Herbon released the following statement Wednesday related to the cafe closure:
MOSI is dedicated to providing science, technology, engineering, art and math educational programming to the Tampa Bay community and has touched the lives of more than 14 million people since opening its doors. Additionally, MOSI provides more than $500,000 per year in scholarships, admission, and teacher training in an effort to remain accessible to everyone in our community.
Since the building first opened in 1995, this is the first time we have been sited for a pest control issue. We have taken immediate action with a variety of aggressive corrective measures, including firing our pest control company and evaluating the outsourcing of our food services, so that we can continue to focus on the importance of our non-profit mission of being a community-based institution and educational resource dedicated to advancing public interest, knowledge and understanding of science, industry and technology education. We can assure you that this will never happen again.