PALM BAY, Fla. - A Palm Bay fast food spot known for serving up burgers and thick shakes was shut down Wednesday after online photos depicting rats, dead bugs and other items prompted an emergency inspection by state officials.
“The inspector was out there yesterday to do an inspection after a video was put on the internet. We also got a multitude of complaints,” said Patrick Fargason, the spokesman for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
The agency used the photos and the complaints to prompt a visit to the Checkers restaurant, part of the fast-food chain known for its late hours and quick meals, at 4840 Babcock St.
“Upon inspection, the establishment was closed due to rodent activity," Fargason said.
A health inspector turned up Wednesday within 24 hours of a social media posting of over a dozen photos from someone described as a former employee. The photos were not date-stamped.
The inspector walked through the premises and found rodent droppings around the soda and shake machines and on the shelf just beneath the cash register.
Dead lovebugs – those seasonal, flying bugs that turned up in droves throughout Brevard County in recent weeks – were found in the tray where the restaurant stored its drinking straws and sauces, inspection reports show.
The inspector noted evidence of an ‘accumulation of dead or trapped birds, insects, rodents or other pests, in control devices,” according to the report issued by the state’s division of hotels and restaurants, which oversees such reviews.
The business was then shut down, even as customers continued arriving to place orders.
An orange warning sticker noting the restaurant was closed was placed in a front window. A few yards away, a woman driving in a van shouted, ‘shut them down!’
Some customers were undeterred by the temporary closure and said they would return to order again.
“My granddaughter wanted the Fry Lover’s burger and someone else wanted the fish…but I think that the bugs are probably common. It’s Florida,” said Jodie Valentine of Malabar.
Late Wednesday afternoon, workers at the restaurant were seen inside of the business using pressure hoses to wash down the floors and also scrubbing the equipment.
A call to Checkers’ corporate office was not immediately returned. FLORIDA TODAY placed a call to Shinta Walker, the store’s manager, which was not returned.
Previous inspection reports show the restaurant was compliant with state standards.
During the most recent prior inspection in February, the restaurant was noted for having an accumulation of mold in an ice bin, standing water on the floor and a hole in the ceiling.
The restaurant does not have a history of closure. However, the management has received several warnings in the past, according to state records.
Copyright 2019 Florida Today