Two government inspections of a popular St. John's restaurant last week found a widespread rodent infestation, including feces in the kitchen, dining room and food storage areas, CBC News has learned.
Swiss Chalet shut down its Kenmount Road location in the wake of a Dec. 14 inspection that showed a serious "hazard to staff and patrons," according to the report filed that day. A followup report was filed two days later, "showing no signs of slowing/reducing."[MORE: Read the inspection reports here.]
Although the inspection reports do not identify what type of rodents were present in the restaurant, a government official said that the infestation involved mice.
"Rodent feces observed throughout entire facility," say the handwritten notes of a provincial government inspector who toured the restaurant last Wednesday.
The inspection, which also identified rodent feces where utensils are stored, reported a "significantly large amount of food debris present on floors [and] underneath and behind equipment in [the] kitchen."
The follow-up inspection report filed last Friday noted: "Food premises to remain closed until reopened by an environmental health officer."
Although the inspection found holes in the floors and walls, Swiss Chalet said in a statement Tuesday night that "this case has been caused by recent weather conditions combined with construction in the area that is disrupting local habitats."
The company has maintained that the decision to close was voluntary.
However, Service NL Minister Paul Davis said the temporary closure was coming, one way or the other.
"[Inspectors] observed what they observed which is contained in the reports, and based on that and in discussion with the operators they volunteered to shut down," Davis told reporters Tuesday.
"But there's no doubt about it, that we would not have allowed that business to continue to operate," he said.
Meanwhile, the inspections determined other problems in the restaurant, including the discovery of what appeared to be mould in the wall of a staff washroom.