Dirty Dining: Popular Downtown Tampa Mexican restaurant shut down for 22 hours because of roaches

"Its been a pretty good place and it's always full," said Nilsa Corsino, who works in Downtown Tampa, right down the street from the Urban Cantina Restaurant on East Madison Street.

"So this in a way is very convenient?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.

"Oh absolutely, very convenient for not only me but for all the people in that building and around," Nilsa said.

But this Mexican eatery was inconvenienced by inspectors recently, who shut down the place after discovering roaches in the kitchen.

"I am pretty surprised! It kind of makes me doubt what I ate and if it's even safe," Nilsa said.

On October 1, 2013 the state found 19 live and dead roaches near the cooks line, drink dispenser, prep table, steam table, storage shelf and bar area, closing Urban Cantina for 22 hours.

So Ryan went to the restaurant to see if the conditions have improved. Once inside, Ryan met a female employee, who said she's worked at the eatery for two years but was not working the day inspectors found the pest problem.

"Is there anyone in charge?" Ryan asked the employee.

"No, he'll be back in a hour or two," she responded and called the owner to see if he'd comment for our story.

But inspectors had plenty to comment on, in regards to food temperature abuse.

In Urban Cantina's last inspection report, 40 quarts of refried beans and 18 quarts of cooked pork had to be thrown out because they were not properly cooled and at dangerous temperatures.

It's the same violation the state wrote up in January, when 30 pounds of refried beans were tossed from the cooler because they weren't cold enough.

At that time, inspectors also found pork and cheese sauce not hot enough.  

Now, Nilsa may think twice before heading back for more Mexican grub.

"It's concerning?" asked Ryan.

"Yes, very concerning. For me or even my family, if they come here to visit. I don't want to take them somewhere they might get sick," Nilsa explained.
Urban Cantina's Response:

We Urban Cantina have a close working relationship with the Health Department to ensure proper food handling and preparation is being executed in order to ensure the well being of all our patrons. It was very disappointing for our entire staff when the health department agent requested we close down for an evening. We took this very seriously and corrected all violations immediately with upmost diligence. We were back open for business and in 100% compliance of all health department codes the next morning after a full night of cleaning, painting, tuning up refrigeration and organizing. It was very unfortunate what happened but it was also a learning experience for all of us at Urban Cantina. Before the incident we had two certified food safety managers on our staff and now we have five to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Moving forward our staff is better trained and more aware of how things needs to be done. We apologize to all our customers for any inconvenience this may have caused.

If you or anyone has any further questions please don't hesitate to contact me.

Christopher Rivas
Urban Cantina's Owner


Print this article Back to Top