NORTH PORT, Florida - Jim Pack loves the food at Stuff-a-Belly Diner on Tamiami Trail in southern Sarasota County.
"The diner is clean, the bathrooms are clean, and food is fresh," said Pack. "I would know, I eat there every day."
That's why Jim is so astonished by what a state inspector found earlier this month: 42 critical violations documented over three days.
See the Oct 2nd inspection report here
Among the problems: shelves covered in food debris, the employee bathroom with an excessively soiled toilet and sink, and nearly 200 roaches, both dead and alive, on and around the dishwashing machine, right on top of the food prep table, even around the employee hand sink. The state inspector returned two more times, finding similar violations on each visit, forcing a 3-day emergency closure.
Stuff-a-Belly Diner was finally allowed to reopen late last week, so we stopped by Wednesday to find out what things looked like in the kitchen. But restaurant management had no interest in discussing what led to the previous problems.
"I did everything correct. I fixed everything... that's all I can tell you," said a man who identified himself as one of the owners.
When we asked to take a look in the kitchen, we were told to leave.
"Everything is fine back there," said another employee. "We don't need to be brought up more and more. It just needs to get quiet."
And the restaurant tried to keep things quiet. 10 News caught them covering up what appeared to be the bright orange public warning notice posted by the state with their own sign indicating a plumbing problem was to blame. Covering up the notice is a violation of state law.
Despite the problems, loyal customers like Jim Pack are confident any issues are now corrected.
"They had the whole staff pitching in, cleaning the floors, mopping everything down."
Stuff-a-Belly Diner has three public complaints on file dating back to last year. One of the complaints alleges a customer got food poisoning after eating a cheese burger at the restaurant in 2011.
View Stuff-a-Belly's complete inspection history here