Another chance for eatery

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Pudgee’s gets temporary reprieve

By Pat Faherty

FLORAL CITY — Citrus County’s favorite Coney Dogs will still be around for a while.

They are the No. 1 seller at Pudgee’s All American Hot Dogs. The roadside stand on the edge of Floral City has been given some more time to comply with fire code requirements that threatened to shut it down.

The tiny eatery got big attention last week, after owner John Sterling announced he was closing Dec. 29. His announcement was in response to a citation that gave him just over a week to comply. It called for minor improvements and the installation of an expensive fire suppression system over the grill.

Once the closing date was posted on a roadside sign, an outpouring of support began for the family business that started in 2001.

On Friday, Deputy Chief of Fire Rescue Jim Goodworth met with Sterling about the violations. “It went very well, we are going to work with him and he is working with us,” Goodworth said. “He understands the reasons for the codes. Our intent is not to shut him down, but to help him meet the code.”

Goodworth said he will return on Jan. 15, which gives Sterling enough time to take care of the minor issues and provide a timeframe for the installation for a fire suppression system.

“He understood where we are coming from,” Goodworth said. “We have an obligation once we receive a complaint from a state regulator to investigate that.

“We will assist him in getting to compliance. Keeping that business compliant is in our best interest.”

Goodworth said the systems really work on grease fires, which can spread quickly. He said having those systems in place is one of the reasons they do not have a lot of commercial restaurant fires.

“It went real good,” Sterling said about the meeting. “They gave me more time, a little more leniency. I’ll have to make it work.”

“It’s been insane,” he said Friday afternoon about the number of people stopping by. “We’re expecting a big crowd Saturday.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Pat Faherty at 352-564-2924 or pfaherty@chronicleonline.com.