Restaurant owner says forced closure is blessing in disguise

Restaurant Report Card

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Saucy Kitchen on Gate Parkway was temporarily shut down after an inspector found roaches in the reach-in cooler. The restaurant was busy with customers when the owner had to close the kitchen. 

The owner was very forthcoming about the problem and said the closure was a blessing in disguise.

Robert Dillard said he had no idea that the bugs were in his kitchen, and after being in the food industry for more than a dozen years this was his first failing inspection.

Dillard showed News4Jax the source of the problem: a used cooler he bought three days earlier after the one that the restaurant was using broke down.

The inspector found at least 10 live roaches on gaskets and hinges inside the cooler.  Dillard said his main concern was to make sure the cooler was working, that it fit in the proper space and that it was clean. 

He was confident that it was clean until the restaurant was temporarily shut down.

"While we cleaned it, we didn't know to dive deep into it to find out if there was anything serious and it turned out it was the cause of the bugs," Dillard said.

He said the bugs were hiding in places that he would have never known to check and that it wasn't until his exterminator came in that he found all of the hiding places.

"We called in our pest (company). They brought in a four-man team, within the hour. They didn't  find anything else, and they started taking apart that unit and the places they were finding (bugs) I didn't even know to look," Dillard said.

The closure at Saucy Kitchen on Gate Parkway lasted only an hour. Dillard was back serving food at the restaurant the next morning. 

He said it's a lesson for all restaurant owners to make sure they carefully check used equipment.  Dillard believes that if the inspector hadn't caught the problem, it would have gotten worse. 

Because the cooler was there for only a few days, his pest control company was sure that the problem was resolved. 

Dillard said that, as a precaution, exterminators are coming back weekly to make sure the pests are gone for good.

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