Nostalgia for dinner tonight with beef ribs, baked potatoes, baked beans (which I decided not to serve until tomorrow, because when they’re made from scratch, even with pork stock, it takes time) and corn-on-the-cob.
It was a hit.
I was probably inspired after reading about Big Tim’s, billed as some of the best BBQ in St. Petersburg, Florida, since 1968, a town for which I have many fond memories.
“It’s chopped pork, it’s ribs, sweet potato pies, coleslaw, the whole nine yards,” said former customer Rodman Goddard.
But on August 21 a state inspector ordered an emergency closure documenting 19 violations, four high priority, including cups and to-go containers on the floor and temperature violations in the walk-in cooler with the raw pork. There were also live roaches behind the pork chopping station, too many roaches to count under main prep table and cutting board, and rodent droppings all throughout the kitchen and in a holding area with beans and sauce.
The inspector also documented no soap or paper towels at a kitchen hand sink and no proof of the state-required employee training.
“I’d be worried about the roaches getting in my food,” said another customer. “I wouldn’t eat there if I knew that before I got inside the building.”
So Thursday night we stopped in to find out what was going on inside the south St. Pete kitchen. When we walked inside, an unidentified employee told us we were not welcome in the kitchen.
“No, there’s no need to show you my kitchen. I’m here, I’m open, I’m serving food.”
When we explained we had concerns after state records showed a number of people getting sick, the employee said, “I have no clue about that. If anything was a problem it’s not a problem anymore.”
But state records show Big Tim’s BBQ has not met inspection standards on any of their past seven inspections, racking up 96 violations since mid-June. 10 News also learned the restaurant was the subject of a health department investigation into a food-borne illness outbreak back in June.
“Our epidemiology staff investigated and what they found were several cases of probable salmonella,” said Department of Health spokeswoman Maggie Hall. “Three were later confirmed by the state lab.”
Despite all that, Big Tim’s still refused to provide us any proof things had been cleaned up in the kitchen.