Dirty Dining: Los Mariachi's forced to shut down for roaches, rodents in the kitchen

Hurricane Irma blew through in September, hitting the bay area hard.

But damage left behind is still visible on Los Mariachi's Restaurant sign at 9100 Ulmerton Road in Largo.

"There's only so much you can do with a roof that's open," said Janet Roman, who manages the restaurant.

And Roman says the storm not only destroyed her sign but also her roof, leaving holes open for insects to get in.

That forced the state to shut the restaurant down recently.

"Did you know you had a roach problem?" ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan asked.

"Well, no and yes because we never thought about the holes on the roof from the hurricane," Roman replied.

"So you never saw anything?" Ryan inquired.

"Of course not because we have the pest guy who comes," she said.

On January 18, inspectors temporarily closed Los Mariachi's for 18 hours after finding rodent droppings and live roaches in the kitchen along with holes in the walls and ceiling.

But Roman blames her insurance company, who won't pay to fix the building.

"It's a problem with the insurance 100 percent because we're going back and forth with them about our roof and the estimates," Roman explained.

And during that same inspection in January, the state ordered over five pounds of flour to be thrown out after finding dozens of black insects, crawling all over the bags.

Inspectors also discovered mold in the ice machine, old food debris on 20 baskets used to serve fresh chips, salsa at dangerous temperatures and food not marked with a date.

"Did you retrain your employees so that some of these food safety issues don't happen again?" Ryan asked.

"Yeah, there were two new employees that had been hired since our last inspection which was six months ago," Roman explained.

And in the last eleven months, the state uncovered over 140 violations, including live ants crawling on the walls and into a pan, where ground beef was stored.

All ten-pounds of that beef had to be destroyed.

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In addition, inspectors found sour cream, shredded cheese, pork and other items all at improper temperatures that could make you sick.

But Roman says restaurant conditions are safe.

"That's what I want people to know. My customers don't get sick," Roman said emphatically.

But Los Mariachi's has had problems before.

We profiled the restaurant on a Dirty Dining report in 2014, when the restaurant was shut down for both roaches and rodents in the kitchen and food at dangerous temperatures.

And Janet Roman was the manager back then as well.

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