Nokomis, Florida -- Pelican Alley is a longtime restaurant located right on the water, popular among locals who love fresh seafood and described as New England flair with a Florida feel.
"They're known for good food," said an excited Donnie DeNure. "I've been there with my sweetie."
But what customers like DeNure didn't know was that this same restaurant was shut down by the state as a temporary emergency closure this month, a state inspector documenting 13 violations, two considered high priority.
Among the issues were food left uncovered in the walk-in freezer; cooking surfaces excessively soiled with grease and food debris; and rodent activity, with the inspector documenting 86 fresh droppings found on the surface of the small window where food is sent out from the kitchen, around open containers of flour in the food storage area, underneath clean utensils, even one on a cutting board that was in use.
"I wouldn't go there again," said a shocked DeNure. "I'm finished with that place!"
The restaurant was allowed to reopen the following day, so we stopped in a week later asking to check out conditions in the kitchen.
"Definitely not," said the on-duty manager when we asked to take a look inside. And while he wanted no part of our camera in the kitchen, Pelican Alley managing partner Robin Sweeney made a special trip to the restaurant to explain what went wrong on the previous inspection.
"This is where we had our problem," said Sweeny motioning down to the back kitchen door which previously had a large gap at the bottom allowing unwanted visitors to get inside. Sweeny explained it was a problem that's since been corrected.
"We actually poured a concrete threshold and put some weather stripping and now that access is no longer there," said Sweeny, who assured us the restaurant took immediate action to clean up all issues.
"Anytime you have any type of evidence of vermin or roaches or rats you don't want any type of contamination in the kitchen area where food is being prepared or near where food is being stored. So, we had to do that immediate repair and we were very glad to do it."
But when asked if he wanted to show off his cleaned up kitchen, "Thank you for the offer ... I think we'll pass on that one," said Sweeny, citing insurance reasons.
He did allow our camera a quick glimpse through the back door, providing everyone a promise.
"All the customers should be very greatly assured all the requirements have been met," said Sweeny. "We were opened with flying colors that next day."
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