They Found What?!?! by Valerie J. Patterson

Picture it: Monday afternoon, a lovely day for al fresco dining, a pleasant meal, good company, and, well, rodents!

There, I said it.  I didn’t want to say it.  I don’t even want to think about it, but there it is.

Monday, my friend and co-worker, Debbie and I went to a local eatery for lunch.  As soon as we stepped outside the courthouse and into the sunshine we were refreshed and happy to be anywhere but inside.  We walked a few blocks to one of our favorite places–a Mexican restaurant–and were delighted to see new wrought iron tables and chairs and big umbrellas lining the sidewalk.  I looked at Debbie and smiled.

“Shall we eat outside?”

“Absolutely!  It’s gorgeous out here!”

We went inside and informed the host we would have a table outside.  He grinned great big and said we would be their first patrons to use the new tables.

Outside we went.

The sun was shining, the service was excellent, and the food was as tasty as always.  Plus we both tried a new dish.

Then, a few days later a friend texted me and asked, “Hey, did you hear the Mexican place was shut down because of a rodent infestation?”

I thought for certain I was going to lose the dinner I had just finished eating.  I left my kitchen where I was doing the dishes, and sat down on the sofa and gagged!  I texted back that I had not heard that news, and that I was trying to process it without being sick.

How does this happen?  How do you run a restaurant and not know you have a rodent infestation?  How do you not take care of it immediately?  How is it possible that you have to be shut down by a Food Safety Inspector before you deal with it?  How do you continue to serve unsuspecting patrons?

Truth be told, if I frequented the Department of Agriculture’s website and viewed the reports of the restaurants I eat at, I’d never eat out again.  Ever.  I’d brown bag lunches and my freezer would be stocked with meals I had prepared myself.  And let’s be honest, this would be far healthier for me anyway.  Again, let’s also be honest in admitting every now and then we all enjoy a good meal out somewhere.  Who doesn’t want or need a break from the kitchen here and there?  Or to step outside from work occasionally?

I recently read an article that said if you want to know how clean a restaurant’s kitchen is, use the restroom.  If the restroom is not clean, neither is the kitchen. If this is true, then perhaps if I had used the restroom before dining al fresco, I wouldn’t have eaten at that restaurant Monday.  I’ll never know.

What I do know is this: It’ll be a long time before I go there again…if I go there again.  Even though I know it will be up to the standards of the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety when it reopens, I will be remembering that they didn’t care enough for my health as a patron to run a clean kitchen to begin with.  It took me almost 2 years to return to a restaurant that had received a bad report, and they weren’t closed down–for rodents or anything else!

Until next time, may your kitchen pantry always be full of a variety of inviting choices and may the restaurant you choose to eat at be clean and rodent-free!  Maybe check the restroom before you sit down!

10 responses to “They Found What?!?! by Valerie J. Patterson

  1. EEEEwwwwwwwww! I’m with you. I’d be done going to that restaurant. And even though it was a few days later before you found out, I think I’d still be gargling with mouthwash. What a horrid feeling, to find that out. I’m glad all is okay for you, but I just can’t let go of that ewwwww factor. (shudder!)

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      I know! It’s disgusting and all sorts of things run through your mind. I made the mistake of going and reading the Safety Inspector’s report, which had me gagging and shuddering. I just want to go in there and ask the employees and the manager if they eat there themselves. How do you know all these violations exist and still open for business?

  2. I’m with you, rodents leave evidence even if it’s only one mouse. I can’t imagine they didn’t know it. Scary, and yes a true big fat EEEEwwwwww.

    On the flip side I was weeding yesterday and again found a nest in the raised bed. This time at the base of a rose bush. At first I thought it was mice but no, baby rabbits. They had their fur so I just covered it back up and left it. I can’t kill them, heck I’d have had trouble with baby mice so glad it wasn’t them. Maybe I need a kitty after all. 🙂

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Ew factor for sure. There were actually decaying rats in the basement, so you can’t tell me they didn’t know they had a problem. That they chose to ignore it speaks volumes!

      So glad it was a nest of bunnies! 😛

  3. YIKES!! Gag reflex for sure. UGH! Sorry this happened. and yeah, they should be ashamed. Jillian

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Absolutely…ashamed! How do you treat loyal patrons like their health doesn’t matter? Disgusting!

  4. Oh, yuk! I’ve heard that too about checking out the restrooms before eating, but alas never do it myself. It would certainly put me off eating there again. Ever. Which is perhaps unfair, but you know, once something is in my head it stays there. Sorry you had that experience, Valerie.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Absolutely, Tricia…once it’s in the head, it’s hard to get past it. The restaurant is reopened, and I heard they’ve been very busy. People say the best time to go is right after being shut down because that’s when they’re the cleanest. My thought is…they should ALWAYS be clean!!

  5. Am gagging just reading this. My mother has always said the same about visiting the restroom first before ordering. I find incomprehensible that restaurants can be so uncaring of their patrons’ health.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      I’m with you, Kit! How on earth can they serve food in such a filthy environment and NOT CARE?? You can’t build up clientele if they’re afraid to eat there!!

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