TAMPA - Tun-du-ree Foods on West Kennedy Blvd in Tampa has been grilled by the state for it's kitchen conditions recently.
On September 25, state inspectors shut down Tun-du-ee for almost three hours because of rodent activity and a sewage leak. They documented sewage backing up their mop sink in the kitchen, mice rub marks near holes in the ceiling, and 19 rodent droppings near the cooler, prep table, dry storage area and inside to go boxes.
And it's not the first time Tun-du-ree has had to deal with rodents.
In June, inspectors found over 70 rodent droppings all over the restaurant including the dining area, sink, soda dispenser, and on and under canned goods.
So ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan went to the restaurant to talk to the owner, Pat Bhava. But he did not want to talk on-camera or have our cameras inside the restaurant.
He said off-camera before the violations in June, he hired a pest control company who serviced the restaurant twice a week to fix the rodent issue and showed Ryan the paperwork.
As for the problems in September, he says the state is wrong, and he didn't have rodents. Ryan spoke to the pest control manager over the phone who said he tried to explain that to inspectors.
But over the last year, Bhava has had to deal with other issues the state documented. That includes 43 critical violations and requiring four follow-up inspections because of what they found.
Repeat violations included a reach-in cooler not working properly in September, July and February of this year, leaving food inside above 41 degrees. But Bhava also told Ryan he's fixed the cooler and all issues in every inspection report. And he's going to fight the fines the state has imposed and the violations that caused the inspector to issue a closure notice.
Email response from Tun-du-ree owner Pat Bhava:
Please allow me to explain the TWO main reasons which were cited as reason for closure of our restaurant :-
1. We did have a sudden rodent activity breakout in the month of June as I explained to you at great lengths and our pest control company had gone above and beyond to completely eradicate the problem proactively as soon as it was discovered. As it currently stands and also when the inspection in question took place, we had no rodent activity as certified by our Pest control Company. The health and hygiene of our customers was never compromised during the entire process as this was paramount in our mind during the entire period. We have documented evidence of all their visits which was as frequent as two to three times a week to address the activity in the month of Jun when the infestation suddenly occurred and the evidence was presented to the inspectors during their inspection. During the inspection it is also pertinent to note that the inspectors found no evidence of current and ongoing infestation which was explained to them both by me and our Pest control professional.
2. The "Sewage leak" cited as the other reason for closure was just a backed up mop sink and not a 'sewage leak' as explained in writing by a professional drain expert whose services I called for immediately during the inspection.
Since the inspector realized that they overreached in their exuberance to discharge their duties on both counts, they spent the next 4-5 hours trying to retract the request for closure which they called in to their Headquarters. At around 4 pm they mentioned to me that they could not retract the closure proceeding, so they would close and reopen my restaurant on their computer as that is the only way they could fix it. They also mentioned that I should consider myself lucky that even though they went through the procedure, I was actually not shut down.
Wendy, I understand you got to do what your viewers want and the inspector will be protecting some version of her story to keep her job, meanwhile the Dir Of Communication will make incorrect statements to the press. It is hard enough to tide over the present economic climate to make ends meet. As a small business owner with 7 families dependent on my business and stuck in between all this I am no longer able to cope up with this situation and explain our self to everyone, and it has taken its toll. As I explained to you in person, it is my opinion that a small business like ours will not be able to survive after a negative coverage in the public arena through a media outlet like your's and me personally would not be able to continue business as usual.
Therefore, I have decided to close our restaurant with effect from next Monday (15th) to allow some time to prepare my employees and our customers.
thanks for your time,