GULFPORT, Fla. — Just blocks off the waterfront in beautiful downtown Gulfport, Habana Café has been serving up traditional Cuban food for 22 years.
“I enjoy the Cuban sandwich, it’s a good option,” regular customer Conrad Mickley said.
But, customers were shocked to learn the Gulfport staple was shut down by state inspectors just a week earlier. The establishment racked up 23 health code violations.
The report shows violations for beans, shrimp and cheese stored at unsafe temperatures. Cases of raw chicken stored next to and touching cases of ready to eat plantains. And, rodent activity with over 100 droppings found on the floor throughout the kitchen, under the cook line, near the expo window and around the front counter area.
“I’m not even going to eat lunch today,” said longtime Pinellas County resident Patty Albright “That’s awful!”
Albright said she wants to know the food she’s about to eat is safe and violations like the ones listed on Habana Café’s inspection are unacceptable.
“It’s all serious to your health,” Albright said. “A restaurant should be concerned about their customer’s health above all.”
This week, 10News stopped by to find out if the violations discovered by the state were now cleaned up.
“It’s the first time in 22 years we’ve ever had a problem like that,” owner David Hastings said.
He told us each and every violation listed on the inspection report was immediately addressed.
“It took us less than two hours and we totally tore apart the kitchen,” Hastings said. “We sanitized the floor and she came right back and looked at everything and said okay.”
Hastings even agreed to allow our camera into the kitchen. His wife, co-owner Jo Hastings, suspects some of what the inspector saw on the ground might not have been droppings.
“These are black beans,” said Mrs. Hastings, pointing to a bulk dry storage bin. “Sometimes they bounce around and there were more black beans on the ground than anything else.”
Either way, the Hastings insist the entire kitchen was thoroughly cleaned and is completely safe.
“We handle food that people put in their mouth,” David Hastings said. “We want to make sure we don’t have customers that get sick because of something we did.”
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