By Beau Zimmer/WTSP
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- A complaint filed with the state alleges a St. Pete Vietnamese restaurant was cooking up rats in their kitchen.
JACKSONVILLE RESTAURANT INSPECTIONS & VIOLATIONS DATABASE
The anonymous complaint was filed in late May against Thuy Cafe on 34th Street North in St. Petersburg. It states employees were capturing rats from the roof and garbage dumpster and cleaning the rodents before cooking them in a tin shack behind the business.
Our sister station, WTSP, stopped in trying to get answers about what was going on in the kitchen. An employee told us no one was available to answer our questions.
Cooking up rats is apparently common on Vietnamese street corners, but is less commonly accepted here in the U.S.
Customers WTSP talked to found the complaint hard to believe and consider the restaurant very clean.
But a June 4th state inspection (read full inspection here) paints a different picture with 18 critical violations. Among the problems: temperature violations; food and equipment stored on the floor; food stored in Home Depot paint buckets; and rodent droppings around the water heater and on top of the freezer.
On WTSP's visit, the news organziation found no evidence of rats being prepared, but during a glimpse inside that tin shack out back WTSP spotted what appeared to be food on the floor uncovered, exposed to the elements.
Loyal customers say despite the problems they'll continue going back.
The restaurant owner did not respond to our request for comment.
Thuy Cafe had a follow up inspection July 17th (read inspection) where only three critical violations were found.