PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla., - A popular Port Charlotte restaurant was forced to shut down after a state inspection uncovered several violations.
The restaurant is Sunset Grill on the Harbour on Bayshore Road. Inspectors cited at least a dozen violations ranging from basic to high priority during an inspection on May 19th.
Now, the word, "CLOSED" is printed in bold letters and attached to the doors, signaling the decades-old Port Charlotte establishment is now a public safety hazard.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations inspected the restaurant and uncovered a dozen violations including roach and rodent activity. The inspector found nearly 20 live roaches, many in the kitchen area.
Inspectors also cited, "too numerous to count rodent droppings scattered all over the floor and shelves," in the lower storage area. Dozens of rodent droppings were also found inside the restaurant, in the dining room, hallway and kitchen.
"Being on the water, show me what restaurant doesn't have that problem every now and then," said Abbe Arnasi, owner of Sunset Grill on the Harbor since 2002. "We hired a company; they didn't do the job right. Now I have to hire another company in a major effort to get rid of the rodents once and for all."
Arnasi says customers should not be concerned about food quality and cleanliness. He says he's spending time, effort and money to restore the restaurant's reputation.
"We offer something unique in terms of location. I think it should be considered the jewel of Charlotte County and we will make it happen again," said Arnasi.
Arnasi says it may be another week before he is able to have the place cleaned up and reopened by the department.
Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the agency conducting the inspection.