SARASOTA, Florida - When we first visited the Café Amalfi on Bee Ridge Road back in June, we found roaches everywhere, lined up in the pots and pans, running across clean plates, and into the walk-in cooler.
Back then, the owner denied there was a problem.
"That's not true, sir," said owner John D'Atria when we told him about all the roaches we found in the kitchen. "We had the board of health here and they gave us a clean bill of health."
The state, however, disagreed, shutting the restaurant down following our June 10 News inspection. The Café Amalfi on Bee Ridge Road has since closed for good.
Now, 10 News has learned the owner's second location on Tamiami Trail is also in trouble with the state, shut down as an emergency twice in January.
The manager called the owner, who again claimed the problems were no big deal.
"He says they just had a pipe broke and they had it on the door and he doesn't want anything to run," said the female employee who identified herself as the manager after speaking with the owner on the telephone.
But the state reported more than just a broken pipe, with an inspector documenting a combined 38 violations in the month of January alone.
The restaurant was shut down January 8th after the state found employees not properly washing their hands; no certified food manager on duty; no proof of employee training; orders of pasta and deli meats not properly date marked; equipment in poor repair, with the salad reach-in cooler held shut by a garbage can and the pizza cooler door held in place by propping up a pan.
The inspector also reported fresh rodent droppings all over the kitchen, on dish room shelves, under the reach-in cooler, and six inside the pizza mixing bowl!
"I have nothing to do with this," said the manager, who did not want to appear on camera. The manager also refused to provide a copy of the restaurant's latest inspection.
Hearing about the problems, some customers left in the middle of their meals.
"This is shocking and I honestly wouldn't bring my family back here," said customer Bill Fox. He told 10 News he never would have guessed the upscale Italian restaurant had problems so severe.
"Unless someone like you or the health department broadcasts this or publishes this over a wider area, consumers will never know," said Fox.
The state came back, shutting the restaurant down again on January 17th after it found more rodent droppings, an expired license, and sewage backing up into the food prep area while the staff was preparing food. As if all that wasn't enough, according to the Florida Department of Revenue, the owner was also arrested in 2013 for allegedly not paying taxes over the past six years and keeping the tax he charged customers.
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