Hygiene inspectors found 'uncontrolled' rat infestation in 'worst case of neglect in 15 years'
Fines of £10,000 have been issued after inspectors found a "widespread and uncontrolled" rat infestation at a Cardiff restaurant in "the worst case of neglect at a restaurant [the council] had come across in 15 years".
Inspections of Lilo Grill on City Road carried out between August 2019 and January 2020 found that open drains were allowing rats to enter the site from the sewers.
There were droppings throughout the premises, rat urine running down walls in the dry store, rats under cooking equipment and behind grills as well as evidence that the rodents had dragged away raw meat left out to defrost.
Cardiff council inspectors found the rats had caused significant damage to the building structure including eating through two cavity walls and were living under the floor of the restaurant directly below dining customers.
Inspections also revealed very poor hygiene practices, widespread contamination problems, salad stored in a rat-infested storeroom and poor refrigeration among other issues.
Father and daughter Sabz Ali Khan, 77, and Sabrina Khan, 41, represented themselves during a trial at Newport Crown Court where they were found guilty of 18 health and safety offences on February 21 2023 and sentenced last week.
The legal Food Business Operator of Lilo Grill is ‘Nightcover Limited' and Sabrina Khan is the sole director of the business. Nightcover Ltd was also ordered to pay £18,500 incorporating a fine of £12,000 and costs of £6,500.
Sabrina was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and Sabz Ali was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,500 in costs.
Cllr Dan De'Ath, cabinet member responsible for Shared Regulatory Services at Cardiff Council, said: "I have been reliably informed by the case officer that this is the worst case of neglect at a restaurant that we have come across in the past 15 years.
"Not only was the state of the property an absolute disgrace that put their customers at risk, but the manager was also very unhelpful and obstructive throughout the investigation. To top it all off, the argument he used in his defence that the rats in the restaurant were due to the proximity of students living in the area, is quite honestly laughable.
"If you own or run a food business, you have responsibilities which are laid out in law. If you do not follow the correct practices and allow your business to go into a state of disrepair, you are putting your customers at risk of disease and infection."
The council said it understood that Sabz Ali is appealing his conviction. He had closed the business voluntarily on August 15 2019 until works had been carried out and was given permission to reopen at the end of August.