St. Pete's Ceviche Tapas Bar & Grill reopens after being closed for health code violations

6:01 PM, Apr 9, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- It's lunch time Tuesday afternoon and the chairs and tables at Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg should be filled with customers not stacked off to the side but the restaurant is closed due to health code violations.

Dave Steele and Sebastian Russell, visiting from Pennsylvania, say their friends suggested Ceviche's for lunch.

"If they failed other inspections then someone is not doing their job," Steele says. 

State officials with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation say Ceviche failed all four inspections this year. 

The restaurant was sited with 15 violations -- four of which were high priority for temperature violations for food storage, employees not washing hands before putting on gloves, and for roaches. The inspector found two dead roaches at the end of cook's line and more than 25 live roaches on the back of the cook's line.

Sandra Poreda with the state agency said those conditions called for Monday's emergency closure. 

Restaurant Red Alert: Roaches force emergency closure of St. Pete's Ceviche

"Those pose potential risk to health, safety, welfare of the public or establishment and employees," Poreda said.

"We took it very seriously we've taken care of it found to be in 100% compliance and at this point we are ready to open our restaurant," said Senior Managing Partner Jim Snyder, Senior Managing Partner.

Snyder said the roaches have been eliminated. 

"We do live in Florida it's a tropical paradise but it's a constant battle we take very seriously." 

The food temperature problem, Snyder said turns out to be plastic wrap around a coil and that has been removed.  

Snyder said the problems were corrected in an hour-and-a-half on Monday but they had to wait for the inspector until Tuesday morning to give them clearance to open.

But the question remains why four failed inspections leading to a roach problem and emergency order? 

Snyder disputed the restaurant failed four inspections just the last one that lead to the emergency closure. But state officials said anytime an inspection requires a follow-up visit by an inspector that restaurant did not pass the inspection.

Pete and Colleen Collandra drove up from Bradenton with plans to eat at Ceviche.

"It's great restaurant, food is excellent, good service. Love the place," said Pete Collandra. 

The couple said they wished the restaurant owners had corrected the problems sooner not after four failed inspections.

"Not pass four inspections that should been done before now, maybe then this is what it takes to get it done," Colleen Collandra said.  

Will the couple return to Ceviche's? 

"Absolutely, absolutely and many more times," Pete said. 

But Steele and Russell say they'll wait until their next trip to St. Petersburg before trying Ceviche to make sure there haven't been anymore violations.

"They need to do more; maybe new personnel because it's not being run the way it should be," Steele said.

The restaurant opened its doors around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday to a handful of customers.

Isabel Mascarenas

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