A Fungus Among Us

September 11, 2010

in Sanitation Stories

My wife and I went to eat at a Spanish restaurant in the Tampa, Florida area. It was nicely appointed with Spanish paintings on the wall; subdued lighting, good service and tasty food made for a pleasant dining experience.

While we were enjoying our meals I felt a drop of liquid that had fallen onto my hand. I looked up to see where it came from and saw that there was an air conditioner grate directly above our table that was around 2 feet by 2 feet in size. I also saw that the grate was completely covered with a green-black colored mold. I wondered if any drops had ended up in my glass of sangria which was positioned only inches from the hand that got dripped on. Looking around the rest of the dining room I noticed 4 other air conditioner grates; each of them was also covered with mold.

I pointed out the grate above us to my wife. Her eyes grew wide and her expression turned to one of horror. She told the waiter who was attending to the table next to us that she wanted to immediately speak to the manager about the mold. The manager came to our table and said that they were going to have the AC system checked out and cleaned. My wife asked him if he knew about the problem. He ignored her question. She then blurted out, “You knew about it!” The manager’s face became contorted in anger and he stormed away. My wife said she felt like standing up and announcing to the other diners that there was a mold contamination problem. I convinced her not to do so. I quickly paid the bill and we scrammed out of there.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

rerere September 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Yes, that was terrible that he knew about the problem, and that there was mold in the first place, however, your wife was a little rude just blurting out at him. You should've taken a calmer approach.

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FuckMyTable September 11, 2010 at 10:15 pm

That is absolutely disgusting. I hope you reported them to the health department…it had to have been going on for a LONG time for it to be that bad at the time you saw it.

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George September 12, 2010 at 5:14 am

I'm the OP. Rerere – my wife was so much in shock about the mass of mold that she felt the impluse to immediately speak with the first restaurant staff person that she saw.

We didn't contact the Health Department. Maybe it was because the restaurant said they were hiring someone to take care of the problem.

What I can't understand is why the restaurant was filled with customers. There were even people waiting to be seated. As you said, FuckMyTable, the mold had to have been there for a good while. You'd think that other diners in the past would have noticed and said something. Maybe they did and the restaurant ignored complaints about it. But I think it would have affected business if that was the case. Maybe people don't look up in restaurants. One thing that's sure is that restaurant staff and management had to have known about the problem. If they didn't care enough about that issue, who knows what's going on inside the kitchen!

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rerere September 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

Actually, re-reading the story, I would've most likely done something worse. Horrible situation, great story!

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Jack September 13, 2010 at 10:55 am

I would have contacted the health department. That's disgusting. You know the manager knew about it. I'll bet until you and your wife complained, having the A/C checked out and cleaned, wasn't on their to do list.

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Peace Lover September 13, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Ewwww nasty, I think I would have lost my appetite! I'm glad the site is back!

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Jack September 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Yeah, I'm glad it's back too.

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Gregg - admin September 13, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Thanks Peace Lover and Jack! I'm glad too. It was touch and go, but technical difficulties were finally able to be resolved.

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Halloweentowngirl September 16, 2010 at 10:03 am

At least you saw it out in the dining room. You have know idea what is lurking in the kitchen. It's must worse in most restaurants that you frequent I'm sure.

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Clare September 28, 2010 at 12:10 am

Despite what the manager said, I would have still contacted the health department. If the mold problem was that bad then it likely has been there for awhile and has been ignored by management.

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Waldi September 29, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Upon discovery and giving that manager a piece of my mind, I would have left this establishment without paying fearing that the kitchen is not not clean. Also, seeing the managers attitude I would not eat anymore out of fear what he/they may put in it ( mucus?)

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Kara March 20, 2012 at 7:22 am

Oh, god. That’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever read. I would’ve absolutely tried my best not to freak out if that had happened to me. Hahaha. I can get so paranoid about stuff sometimes – I agree that you should’ve alerted some health service and insisted the place get a “surprise” inspection. Your story makes me wonder what happened to the place though. I hope that it either seriously cleaned up its act (no pun intended!) or that it got shut down by health inspectors. I feel sorry for you and everyone else that ever ate there. Ugh. *shudder*

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