Dirty Dining: Vallarta's Mexican Restaurant shut down by state for over 60 roaches in the kitchen

TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. - Trel Watkins works at a new store next to Vallarta's Mexican Restaurant on North 56 Street in Temple Terrace. But after eating there the other day, he says he regrets it.

"The next two days I felt very sick. I even have a lump in my stomach now. I can barely walk," Trel explained.

"So it was food poisoning?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan asked.

"Yes, I had food poisoning," Trel responded.

Trel claims he felt so ill, he even went to the doctor.

"They told me it was a staph infection from eating the food," Trel said.

"From eating the food?" Ryan asked in disbelief.

"Yes ma'am," Trel answered.

On August 29, 2013 state inspectors closed down Vallarta's for almost 24 hours after finding over 60 live and dead roaches in the dining room and bar area and throughout the kitchen near the prep table, steam table, cooks line, and inside a 40 pound bag of sugar, making the restaurant throw it out.

Ryan went into the restaurant and spoke with the owner,  Jose Jimenez, who spoke limited English. So another employee helped interpret what he was saying and explained that he was on vacation in Mexico when the restaurant was shut down.

Jimenez has owned the restaurant for over 20 years and says he relies on his manager, Gustavo, to keep the place up to code. And Jimenez says Gustavo handled all of the problems.

But according to state records, other problems over the last year included food temperature violations with poultry, rice, beans, pasta, and vegetables not hot enough and under 135 degrees and butter, milk, creamer, mozzarella cheese, sour cream, and guacamole not cold enough or hotter than 41 degrees.

"Have you known about any problems in the restaurant?" Ryan asked Jimenez directly.

"No, it's all very good," Jimenez answered.

Jimenez assured Ryan that all violations have now been corrected.

"The customers who come in are going to want to know that everything is ok. Is everything ok?" Ryan asked.

"Yeah," Jimenez said.

But after Trel's experience, everything for him is not ok.

"Will you go back?" Ryan asked.

"No, I would never go back," Trel said emphatically.
 

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