A neon orange “CLOSED” sign was removed from the entrance of Tup Tim Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar late last week, indicating it was opened back up for business.
Two days earlier, Tup Tim Thai, located at 1230 W. University Ave. near the Publix Super Market at University Village Market, was shut down by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Sept. 13 for health violations. Following two inspections, the restaurant, which was a go-to spot for some Gainesville residents, was cleared to open.
The DBPR conducted a routine inspection and uncovered 23 violations at the restaurant. This included multiple rodent droppings, one dead rodent and dead roaches, according to the inspection report. Six high priority violations were recorded — infractions that could lead to foodborne illness or injury.
Rodents are the main spreaders of a group of viruses known as hantaviruses, some of which can lead to the development of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome — a rare but deadly disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The symptoms of HPS include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, difficulty breathing and nausea, according to the CDC.
Hantaviruses are not the only diseases spread by rodents; rodents can also directly and indirectly spread 28 other illnesses, according to the CDC.
When the DBPR returned Sept. 14, three violations were recorded and the restaurant's operations were ordered to shut down until the violations were corrected, according to the inspection record. The highest priority violation was the repeated infraction of rodent activity and droppings.
Tup Tim Thai opened in 2020 and serves an assortment of Thai, Asian and Asian fusion cuisine.
The restaurant didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment including eight phone calls, an email and five visits to the restaurant.
However, former employee and UF mechanical engineer junior, Mason Fields remembers the kitchen conditions as spotless. The 20-year-old worked at Tup Tim Thai from November 2020 to February 2021.
“From what I remember, they took a lot of pride in making sure everything was as it should be,” Fields said. “I don't remember seeing a single bug in the kitchen or really anywhere. They were always very particular about cleaning.”
The “CLOSED” sign at the entrance of the restaurant was missing on Sept. 15 following another inspection. The inspection found two intermediate violations, and the DBPR reported a follow-up inspection is required. The department ultimately cleared Tup Tim Thai to open that day.
“Violations require further review, but are not an immediate threat to the public,” read the Sept. 15 inspection report.
Johnny Nguyen, a 21-year-old UF management and economics senior, visited the restaurant throughout the summer and enjoyed the food served. Last week, when he went to get lunch with some friends, he was shocked to find the restaurant was closed by the DBPR.
“It seemed normal. It didn't seem like gross or dirty,” Nguyen said. “It was a little shocking because I didn’t know that they had low health standards.”
One of Nguyen’s friends ate at the restaurant three days before it was closed and really loved the sushi and food they ordered, Nguyen said.
“It's a shame that one of the cool restaurants that was near campus got closed down,” Nguyen said.
The establishment was also shut down in July after a routine DBPR inspection discovered 20 violations, many of them repeated, according to the inspection report.
These infractions included a lack of handwashing prior to staff handling food and the observation of rodent droppings. The restaurant met inspection standards during a visit by the DBPR the following day, according to the inspection report.
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Melanie Peña is a second-year business and journalism major. When she's not designing a graphic or writing an article, she's probably making jewelry or exploring coffee shops in Gainesville.