RED ALERT: Former cook dishes dirty secrets on Sam's Beach Bar in Pasco

6:31 AM, Aug 15, 2013   |    comments
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HUDSON BEACH, Florida -- Open since 1981, there's no doubt Sam's Beach Bar located just west of U.S. 19 has a beautiful location.

"The atmosphere is great, the music is great, you're on the beach," said customer Shannon Camino.

But what it looks like outside at sunset and what's going on in the kitchen can often be very different. Just ask the former cook from Sam's Beach Bar who called 10 News to blow the whistle on horrible conditions inside the kitchen.

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"It's honestly the dirtiest restaurant I've ever worked in," said the former employee, who called himself "John" and asked us not to show his face on camera. "I'm food certified and health is a real issue to me. So if you have roaches crawling across the plate and they serve the food anyhow, it doesn't fit right with me."

John alleges, as an employee, management and owners seemed to care more about profits than customer safety.

"The fish was rotten, you could smell it. It was slimy and they told me to wash it off and serve it anyhow. And if I won't feed it to my family, I won't feed it to somebody else," the former cook told 10 News, listing other issues like rodents in the kitchen and flies everywhere.

He said when he brought up health issues he was reprimanded by management. "'We don't pay you to be a health inspector, we pay you to cook, so go back to cooking.'"

His biggest complaint? Employees not wearing gloves while preparing food.

"They say, 'We don't use gloves here, it's too expensive. We only keep them for the health department.'"

John said he was eventually fired from his job, filing a complaint with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. A state inspector went in and documented many of the same issues John brought up in his interview with 10 News.

See the inspection report here

So, last week, we stopped in to see if conditions had improved. Manager Nicole Greco told us she was not authorized to take us into the kitchen without the owner present and questioned why we were visiting her restaurant in the first place.

"What exactly were you told, because our last health inspectionwe passed with flying colors," Greco told us. She did not have a copy of the report, but told us the restaurant scored a 94 percent, "A" on the inspection.

The only problem is the state does not assign a score, or letter grade, on inspections. Instead, we showed Greco a copy of the state report listing 29 violations, eight considered high priority -- not exactly passing with flying colors.

"Well, like I said, without her, I can't do anything or do any type of interview for you. She (the owner) is back on Monday," Greco said.

Greco later agreed to answer some additional questions over the phone.

"Yes, there are going to be issues. We're not perfect here," Greco said. "But I do want people to know, including you Beau, that we correct those issues right on the spot."

Take a look at Sam's full inspection history here.

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