Dirty Dining: Pizza place gets shut down for third time in a year for live roaches and rodents

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - For more than half a year, Oliver Clegg has worked at Gateway Pizza and Pasta at 1156 94 Ave. N. in St Petersburg.
 
"There is no designated manager," Clegg said.

"So can you speak for the restaurant? As far as your concerns, there are no problems?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.

"No, of course not. Otherwise we would not be open," Clegg said.

But staying open seems to be a challenge for Gateway.

State inspectors shut down the pizzeria for three days recently after finding 25 live roaches near the prep table, cooler, and main cooks line.

They also found more than 100 rodent droppings on the dough mixer, near the soda machine, pizzas, pizza rack and coolers.  

"For the most part, it was pretty routine. You can check the track record of the shop. We don't really have any major problems that would cause a main overwhelming shutdown or bad review," Clegg said.

But that's not what inspections reveal.

In 2013, the state closed Gateway's doors in May for live roaches and in March for live rodents.

And most recently on April 2, 2014, inspectors ordered the eatery to throw out five pounds of raw chicken wings because they were "rancid and unwholesome," according to the inspection report.

"That I'm not familiar with," Clegg said.

And on March 31, 2014, several items were found at temperatures that could make customers sick.

Cold food should be 41 degrees or below but inspectors found sausage at 46°f, tomatoes at 57°f, ham at 53°f and cheese at 52°f.

"If it was a matter of the actual temperatures being off, it might be a problem with some of the hardware that we have," Clegg said.
 
From March 2013 to April 2014, 196 violations have been documented with the state issuing $1,200 in fines.

"One of our main reasons at least I understood why we were closed was the license being expired for more than 30 days," Clegg said.

And Clegg says no restaurant is perfect.    

"You can imagine, if you get surprise health inspections, something's always going to be off, anywhere that you work, any food industry," Clegg said.

On Monday, I spoke with Gateway Pizza's owner, Gary, who did not want to give me his last name.

Gary told me after the restaurant was shut down in April, his entire crew thoroughly cleaned for three days, pulling out all the equipment and scrubbing everything from top to bottom. 

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