INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, Fla. - The Red Lion Pub has been a popular beach bar on Indian Rocks for years.
Longtime customers say the restaurant is known for its Tuesday wing specials. But in April, one customer reported finding something less than special -- a metal spring inside a piece of celery.
The complaint prompted a surprise visit by the state and a long list of new violations.
Among the problems:
- Lunch meats and cheeses were not properly date marked
- Baked potatoes had to be thrown out because of temperature violations
- An employee purse on the clean dinner plates
- Celery held in dirty water
- Cook not using soap to wash her hands
"I know they were having a little problem with cleanliness, and we complained about that too," said one customer who had been coming to Red Lion for the past 20 plus years.
But many longtime customers had no idea the restaurant was also struggling to deal with both roaches and rodents. The inspector documented finding live roaches under the microwave above the food prep table and rodent droppings on a shelf, even in a paper-lined serving basket.
"When we see a restaurant that's having problems on the beach like you just mentioned, my wife and I both say, 'No, we don't want to go there and eat till they clean up their problem,'" said the customer.
So we wanted to know if the problems were corrected.
Manager Jonathan Davis admitted the restaurant didn't do so hot on their April inspection. "The health inspector came in, checked everything out, and gave us a bunch of stuff to fix," he said.
He says his team went to work cleaning up the kitchen. "She came in the next day and says she's never seen a crew turn it around so fast."
Davis allowed 10 News back into the kitchen for a look. He says the rodent droppings were from three years ago when the beach bar had a problem with rats.
"I think it was left around from that time, but nothing recent," said Davis.
But there was no excuse for the live roaches. Even on our visit, we found numerous flying insects in the area around the bar.
Despite Red Lion's 20 critical violations, Davis assures customers everything is cleaned up. "Everyone works hard to make sure the place stays clean. [We have the] best bar food in the area, period. I couldn't be prouder of the people who work back here in the kitchen. They do a phenomenal job."
Take a look at Red Lion's full inspection history here.
Outrageous Restaurant Red Alert reports:
Band Aid Soup: Customer served soup - with a band aid in it!
Terrible 10: 10 Tampa Bay restaurants with the WORST critical violations
Ceiling Roaches: McDonalds cited when roach falls from ceiling onto diner's food
Finger in salad: Pizza customer claims there was a fingertip in his salad
Baked Roaches: Roaches found baked into Pizza Supreme
More Restaurant Red Alert Reports:
Classic Homestyle Buffet, Tampa 1/11/12
Frank's Family Restaurant, Hernando 1/18/12
Big Easy Cajun, Brandon TownCenter 1/25/12
CiCi's Pizza, Kenneth City 2/1/12
China Express, Brandon 2/8/12
Daiquiri Deck, Maderia Beach 2/15/12
Athenian Garden, Tyrone Area, St. Pete 2/22/12
Bob Evans (Ulmerton Road), Pho 97 (Pinellas Park), Kobe Japanese Steak House (New Tampa) 2/29/12
China Jade, Carrollwood, 3/7/12
Nicki's West 59th (Bradenton), Top's China Buffet (Brandon), 400 Beach (St. Petersburg) 3/14/12
Hamburger Mary's Bar & Grille (Ybor City) 3/21/12
Sandy's Restaurant, Indian Rocks Beach 3/28/12