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Dirty Dining: Big Stein's Deli shut down for 3 days after state finds 50+ live & dead roaches

Posted at 11:17 PM, Jul 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-04 03:46:15-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Back in 2001 owner Mark Sciarra opened Big Stein's Deli at 9001 4th Street North in St. Petersburg.

And over the last 17 years, he says the state has never shut him down for anything. 

But that all changed recently.

"It had to be hard for you to be closed that long? That's a lot of money out of your pocket?" asked ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.

"Yeah, it was. It was very hard," Sciarra said. 

In a special Dirty Dining I-Team report, ABC Action News found inspectors temporarily closed Big Stein's Deli from May 22 to May 25 after seeing over 55 live and dead roaches along with roach feces under the prep table, near coolers, the ice cream chest, soda fountain, sink, and in various parts of the kitchen. 

"We have pest control. We've had three different pest control companies," Sciarra explained.

"Were they just not doing their job?" Ryan asked.

"Apparently not," he answered. 

But the roaches weren't the only issue.

In May, inspectors discovered food in the cooler at dangerous temperatures and above 41- degrees with cheese at 46°f, coleslaw at 58°f, red chili garlic sauce at 74°f, and habanero hot sauce at 72°f. 

Then in June inspectors found cut lettuce at 49°f, coleslaw at 61°f, pasta salad at 48°f, capicolla at 56°f, cheese at 51°f, and homemade hot sauce at 77°f.

The state then issued an administrative complaint against the deli because it was a repeat violation.

But Sciarra blames it on a very busy kitchen.

"It's cold. It's just through the course of the day, regular use, open and closing, I'm making sandwich after sandwich after sandwich and the temperature changes a little bit," Sciarra said.

Still, 100-violations in the last ten months reveal no proof of certified employee training, food not marked with a date and employees touching ready to eat food with their bare hands.

"You think maybe they were being over-reactive?" Ryan asked.

"I think so, personally," he responded. 

And Sciarra says he will continue to work hard, putting in over 50 hours a week and customers should have no worries.

"I guess this is not going to happen again?" Ryan asked.

"I hope not!" Sciarra said emphatically.