Are rodents ever acceptable in a restaurant?
I recently got an e-mail the subject line of which was "Are rodents ever acceptable in a restaurant?"
Then yesterday I received a press release from the Center for Science in the Public Interest on its report "Dirty Dining." I kind of like the subhead: "Have reservations? You will now."
Baltimore was one of the cities studied, and while there are no surprises, it's worth taking a look at the report. The recommendation is for health department letter grades to be posted prominently in restaurant windows. Faithful readers will already know how I feel about that. ...
“The results of our grading system in Los Angeles have been very positive, with improved restaurant sanitary practices, reduced rates of severe food-borne illness, and high consumer confidence in this key public health regulatory system,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of public health for Los Angeles County.
As for the e-mail on rodents, here it is:
I have had the repeated experience in the last 12 months of dining in some high-end restaurants (read: hip, local produce, acclaimed chef, organic, etc.) where I witness mice running across the floor of the restaurants. In all three cases, I notified the management (after the fact, as to not cause a scene during the busy dinner period). The first restaurant apologized and said they would look into it. It happened again, at the same restaurant about six months later. I know the owners of this restaurant and would not want to get them in trouble with the Board of Health.
The third occurrence happened the other night, again in an extremely popular, standing-room-only, hip restaurant. There were mice actually frolicking near a corner table. A woman seated nearby put her feet up on a nearby chair, but appeared relatively non-plussed. The owner of the restaurant was sitting approximately 5 tables away.
I have a miserable phobia of rodents so promptly left the restaurant, leaving my husband to settle up the bill and wait for the coffee I had ordered but would not be drinking. When my husband explained to the waitress that I left before my coffee arrived because of mice near the table, she more or less shrugged if off.
My husband is actually of the opinion that one should not be surprised when they see mice in a restaurant....that all restaurants have them and there isn't much the management can do to keep them out of the dining area. I am appalled by this idea and cannot accept that rodents in the general dining area is not a sign of a lack of cleanliness. I admit my phobia is out of hand, but expecting to see rodents in a restaurant could seriously impact my desire to dine in a restaurant.