CLEARWATER — Live roaches in the kitchen and drink machine areas, dead roaches in tortilla chips and ice, and too many dead fruit flies to count in a pineapple and vinegar mixture used for food preparation.
Those and more than two dozen other violations were enough for the state to temporarily shutter Los Mayas, a popular Mexican restaurant near downtown Clearwater on Thursday.
Friday morning, a handmade sign on the door of the restaurant at 1200 Cleveland St. promised that it would reopen by 4 p.m. and it was open for dinner. A follow-up inspection earlier in the morning found the restaurant had met standards, according to the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation's website.
The first inspection on Thursday found 32 violations, 10 of them critical. That's 17 more than were found at Ceviche, a popular St. Petersburg restaurant that made headlines when it was temporarily closed in April.
Other critical violations in the report included employees preparing food with bare hands, evidence of Raid roach spray "throughout kitchen area," and a can of WD-40 stored above cooked chile relleno.
Contacted on Friday, owner Lorenzo Castrejon blamed a poor job by his pest control company for the problems. He started noticing roaches on Monday and called the company to respray, which it did on Wednesday night, he said. "The reason that I called them back was because I saw roaches," Castrejon said.
On Thursday morning, an inspector showed up, he said. Castrejon said he has switched to a new pest control company and thinks the roach problem, which he said has been present for about a month, is now resolved.
He said he is confident his clientele will return to the restaurant he opened in 1991, originally as Los Mariachis.
"Most of my customers are regulars, they've been coming for 20 years and they know I'm always there."
Times news researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Charlie Frago can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago.