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Tin Cow owner defends restaurant after viral post shows feces, dead rat

Photo source: WEAR-TV

The owner of a restaurant in downtown Pensacola is defending his business after photos of feces, a dead rat and food contaminated by animals made the rounds on social media.

Joe Abston, owner of The Tin Cow said in a written statement the photos do not reflect the current reality of the restaurant.

Abston said a former fry cook posted the photos.

"They absolutely do not reflect the current condition of the restaurant kitchen, and serve no purpose other than to harm The Tin Cow’s reputation," Abston said.

The images, posted on Facebook on Tuesday, have been shared more than 3,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon.

On Wednesday night, Abston posted a Facebook live video on The Tin Cow's page taking the blame.

"The blame for this kitchen's condition is my fault alone," Abston said in the video. "Should never of happened. I took my eye off the ball."

According to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), the establishment was temporarily shut down on January 4th for six violations during a routine inspection, two of which were labeled "high priority."

A high priority violation means the issue could contribute directly to a food illness and pose a threat to public health, safety and welfare, according to DBPR's website.

One of the high priority violations noted by the inspector was rodent activity present by rodent droppings found.

"Unused hot well with approximately 15 hard rodent droppings- approximately 35 hard rodent droppings under storage shelf next to walk-in cooler," the January 4 inspection document states. "Some are soft but there is water and grease on the floor making it hard to tell if it is due to the water and grease."

The other high priority violation was a hazardous temperature reading in sprouts. According to the DBPR website, sprouts have to be maintained at 41 degrees or less. The inspection report indicates the sprouts temperature at Tin Cow read 56 degrees.

The inspection report also notes violations for a dead roach by the back door, cracked tile floors, and non-compliance with employee training.

"On January 4, our downtown The Tin Cow location, which is in a 90-year-old building, experienced some leaking pipes and code violations," Abston said. "Upon request by the Health Department, we temporarily closed the restaurant to immediately correct the deficiencies. We conducted repairs, patched holes, brought in additional pest control services, and implemented new nightly cleaning policies. We reopened the following morning with a clean bill of health from the Health Department."

According to the DBPR website, on January 5, Tin Cow received a follow up inspection where it met inspection standards.

Abston said the kitchen manager responsible for the affected area resigned.

"We have implemented numerous new procedures to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again," Abston said. "The Tin Cow maintains the highest commitment to providing a quality dining experience for its patrons."

Channel 3 News has reached out to the person who posted the photos, but has not heard back yet.

Read the entire news release here:

We'd like to address some highly misleading comments and photos recently spread by a disgruntled former employee about our downtown location. His comments do not reflect the current reality at The Tin Cow, and we would like our valued patrons to know the truth.
On January 4, our downtown The Tin Cow location, which is in a 90-year-old building, experienced some leaking pipes and code violations. Upon request by the Health Department, we temporarily closed the restaurant to immediately correct the deficiencies. We conducted repairs, patched holes, brought in additional pest control services, and implemented new nightly cleaning policies. We reopened the following morning with a clean bill of health from the Health Department.
Since then, the kitchen manager responsible for the affected area has resigned, and we have implemented numerous new procedures to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. That is our pledge to our customers, and our commitment to the public.
Despite our aggressive efforts to provide a quality restaurant experience, a former fry cook chose to post photos that purport to show ongoing problems. They absolutely do not reflect the current condition of the restaurant kitchen, and serve no purpose other than to harm The Tin Cow’s reputation. That employee was terminated after several days of repeatedly failing to show up for work without explanation. We made repeated attempts to contact this former employee, but he refuses to respond to our outreach.
Once again, ownership and management are deeply committed to ensuring that nothing like this ever happens again. The hundreds of five-star reviews we’ve received and the thousands of satisfied customers we have served over the years are the true measure of the The Tin Cow, and maintaining that level of excellence is our continuing pledge to our customers and the public. The Tin Cow maintains the highest commitment to providing a quality dining experience for its patrons and hopes to welcome you back soon.
Joe Abston
Owner

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