A customer’s now-viral social media post showed her encountering more than just chicken at a popular fast food joint in the Florida panhandle earlier this month.
The “Slim Chickens” location on Nine Mile Road in Pensacola is fairly new and had yet to receive a complaint or health code violation since its opening in March 2021, according to WEAR Pensacola.
That changed after Haile Kirkland found a roach cooked into her food.
“At first I thought it was a burnt spot,” Kirkland told the outlet. “And then when I picked it up I said, ‘That’s a whole bug.’”
Kirkland said she and her husband had only taken a few bites of their food before noticing the insect.
“I probably ate one or two of my tenders and then my husband sat his food down and he was like, ‘Here check my food,’ and it was in his food,” Kirkland said. “And I was like ‘Oh great.’”
Kirkland shared a video to her Facebook page showing the bug cooked into a chicken tender. The post has been shared nearly 1,500 times since Feb. 16 and resulted in an anonymous employee sending her videos of roaches crawling in various spots in the kitchen.
A dead cockroach was found inside a meal at Slim Chickens in Pensacola. Facebook: Haile M Kirkland
The woman claimed the owner didn’t care much about the bug. Facebook: Haile M Kirkland
Though thousands of people came in contact with Kirkland’s Facebook post, the state reportedly wasn’t aware of the issue until WEAR reached out for answers.
On Tuesday, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation visited the restaurant and observed nearly 20 dead roaches in the store, WEAR reported. The DBPR called for a follow-up inspection on Wednesday and found no violations.
The owner of the location, who was not named, sent the following statement to WEAR on Thursday:
Following the original post, Kirkland shared videos from the kitchen with more roaches on jars. Facebook: Haile M Kirkland
“My team was immediately made aware of the complaint, and we responded swiftly to ensure all health & safety precautions were evaluated. I met with our local pest elimination company the following morning at the restaurant to thoroughly inspect the premises and provide further pest elimination treatment. Although we believe all pest activity has been resolved they will continue to come out weekly to monitor and provide additional treatments as needed.
“Our local Health Inspector arrived on Tuesday for an inspection and found dead insects from the treatments. He returned the following day, and we were approved with no issues or violations. We will continue to work with our local Heath Inspector and provide full access to ensure the quality of our food and guest experience.”
The owner also told the Pensacola news outlet his primary goal was to ensure Kirkland was alright.
In her post on Facebook, Kirkland said the store manager told her “oops, sorry” and asked if she wanted a “refund or something.” In an interview with WEAR, Kirkland said the location’s owner reached out to her, offering a sincere apology, a full refund and $100 in gift cards – including $50 to Slim Chickens.
She said she would eventually return to the restaurant once it’s proven to be clean.
“I’m not gonna lie, they have some of the best chicken in town, I just need it to be clean,” Kirkland said.
Slim Chickens did not immediately respond to Fox Business’ request for comment