Two food court eateries inside a local mall are under the microscope tonight.
Pepe's Latin Cafe located inside the Citrus Park Town Center Mall in Tampa had to temporarily stop serving food after the state shut down the place for live roaches crawling around.
ABC Action News I-Team finding that last Thursday, July 28, inspectors documented 17 live roaches all over the kitchen including behind the cooking equipment, near the triple sink and mop sink, by the ice machine, dry storage shelves and front area. And dead roaches in numerous areas inside the kitchen and front area.
Inspectors warned Pepe's Latin Cafe on July 18 when they discovered a live roach by the prep sink. And when they returned two days later, the state observed four more live roaches by the reach-in cooler and the front area, warning the eatery again to clean up the problem.
Then when the state returned last Thursday and found more than a dozen live roaches all over the kitchen, they shut the place down overnight.
Other violations discovered last week include hot food not held hot enough with Curry chicken at 118° when it should have been 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
And it's not the first time there have been temperature issues at Pepe's.
On January 5, inspectors found pork roast at 95-degrees when it should be above 135-degrees.
And on October 27, inspectors documented many cold food items well above the minimum of 41 degrees including ham at 51° stuffed potatoes at 46° beef Empanadas at 50°, chicken Empanadas at 46°, chicken tenders at 49°, beef steak at 46°, tomatoes sliced at 55°, sour cream at 48°, butter at 50°, ham at 57°, garbanzo beans at 56°, black beans at 56°, and ground beef at 50°.
A stop sale was issued on certain items due to that temperature abuse.
Most recent violations include food held more than 24 hours and not properly date marked, black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine, the hand wash sink not accessible for employees to use, no paper towels provided at the hand wash sink, and the interior of the reach-in cooler soiled with food residue.
ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan spoke to the owner of Pepe's Latin Cafe, Jordan Tron and he explained over the phone the mall changed pest control companies and no one came to spray for roaches for almost two months.
But after getting shut down by the state, Tron says he hired Ecolab and is now paying out of his own pocket for the company to spray once a week.
Tron also explained that no roaches were close to the food and everything is perfect now.
Inspectors also closed Charleys Philly Steaks inside the food court at Citrus Park Mall on Monday, August 1 after seeing 32 live roaches by the front counter, prep sink, ice machine, on the cutting board, the triple sink and in the back kitchen along the wall.
Inspectors also found 25 dead roaches in the back kitchen and front line along with no proof of required employee training.
Ryan tried calling Charleys Philly Steaks and left messages but no one called her back.
She reached out to the mall's media department for comment too and is still waiting on a response.