Dirty Dining: Restaurant and catering company shut down twice in one year for roaches in the kitchen

DUNEDIN, Fla. - For the past 12 years, Marguerite Allison owns a restaurant that bears her name, Marguerite's Cafe and Catering on Plaza Drive in Dunedin.

And she admits, it's not always an easy gig.

"How many hours do you spend here?" ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan asked.

"More than I should," Marguerite joked, adding, "but I can't be the mother that hovers all the time."

Maybe she wasn't hovering enough last month when the state closed the restaurant for almost 48 hours after seeing close to three dozen live and dead roaches in the kitchen. That includes roaches on the floor, near the slicer, under the chest freezer, the three-compartment sink, next to the ice machine, near the dish machine, the bakers pride oven and under cooking pans at the cook line.

"We had a shipment come in and if anyone knows anything about corrugated cardboard, they're basically roach hotels," Marguerite said.

And she took Ryan into the kitchen to show her around and where the roaches were found on May 7 and May 8.

But 10 months earlier, inspectors found other roaches, temporarily closing Marguerite's Cafe then, too. Again the owner blames it on a bug-tainted delivery.

"Same situation?" Ryan asked.

"Same situation," Marguerite responded.

"Where you had a delivery?" Ryan asked.

"Yeah, and it's something that happens. And it's unfortunate that they (inspectors) show up while we are trying to handle something," she said.

And Marguerite has had other things to handle.

Last month, inspectors found beef thawing at room temperature, mold-like substance in the ice machine. They also found the dish machine chlorine sanitizer was not at the proper minimum strength and not sanitizing properly.

But Marguerite says the state was wrong, insisting there was really nothing wrong with it.

"The dish machine gets serviced by the company who supplies the chemicals," she said. "We tested it, and it tested fine." 

Last year, the state issued a stop sale, forcing Marguerite's Cafe to throw out half and half, yogurt and sour cream because of dangerous temperatures in the cooler. Marguerite says she replaced that old cooler with a new one.

And even though we found a bug dying on the kitchen floor during our visit, Marguerite says she takes full responsibility and wants her customers to know that.
"We are looking out for their well being. And we try our utmost to do the best we can in maintaining cleanliness and a healthy environment," she said.

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