ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dan Torregrossa manages the Smoker's Vapor E-Cigarette Store just few doors down from the Dragon Phoenix Restaurant on Bay Pines Road in St. Petersburg. Still, he had no idea the place was infested with roaches recently.
"Does it concern you that roaches could find a way into your store?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.
"No, luckily we have an exterminator that comes in once a month and make sure everything is copacetic," Dan responded.
Just before Christmas inspectors witnessed almost 200 live and dead roaches munching around the cooks line, prep table, meat grinder, rice cooker, reach-in cooler and dining room table, closing the restaurant for almost 24 hours December 19-20.
According to those reports from late December, an inspector even watched an employee kill a live roach with his bare hands and then rinse his hands where dishes were in a sink, which is against sanitary rules.
And with more roaches discovered in January 2012, Ryan paid the restaurant a visit. But when she met the owner, Xu Yan Zhong, she quickly realized he did not speak much English. So one of his employees, Ed, tried to help interpret.
Ed explained that Yan felt he had no more problems but Yan did not want to let us in the kitchen to see for ourselves.
Meanwhile, inspectors saw plenty, writing up 73 violations during those three visits in December with old egg rolls and chicken not marked with a date, onions stored on the floor, and employees without proper training certifications.
Yan indicated everything has been corrected.
Still, his neighbor thinks the restaurant should be more responsible so it doesn't happen again.
"They really got to get it under control," Dan said emphatically.