A Cardiff restaurant owner who said "he was protecting his business" by not displaying the two-star food hygiene rating has been fined £5,000.
Brook Bistro owner Darren Beddis pleaded guilty to six counts of failing to display the sticker without reasonable excuse when he appeared in Cardiff Magistrates Court on 27 April.
By law the rating must be displayed "close to the entrance where it is capable of being easily read by the customer before they enter".
The restaurant received its two-star score following an unannounced visit by environmental health officers last October, shortly after Beddis took ownership of Brook Bistro.
The Food Standards Agency then issued a full inspection report and sticker, which Beddis said he didn't receive. He told The Caterer that the problem stemmed from the council not having the correct address on record up until the court date.
"That prevented us lodging an appeal in the first instance and in my opinion, these things should be sent by recorded delivery," he said.
His application for re-grading was refused because he was not displaying the current rating, according to Cardiff Council.
Beddis said he did not initially display the sticker because he didn't want to damage the reputation of the restaurant.
He said: "Everything in the kitchen is less than two years old. All of my staff undertake food hygiene and safety courses. We had only recently opened and I didn't want customers to think there were problems with the hygiene standards.
"We were given the score due to issues with the paperwork, which I sorted out straight away. I went and printed out the new paperwork and sent it straight back."
The council outlined its intention to prosecute in legal notices that were hand delivered to the premises in November 2017, when Beddis told the officer that the food hygiene rating was being displayed.
When the officer inspected he found the sticker had been placed in the bottom left-hand corner of a full-length window that was being hidden by table and chairs. Beddis claims he asked the officer if the sticker's location was acceptable and that the officer told him it was.
But it was explained to Beddis at a later date that the positioning of the rating sticker wasn't satisfactory because it was not easily noticeable to customers.
After positioning the sticker correctly and sending a picture to the council that was deemed satisfactory there was a further complaint that led an inspector to return to the business in December 2017, when found the sticker was being blocked from view by a large patio heater.
Beddis told officers "he was protecting his business by not displaying the food hygiene rating."
Councillor Michael Michael, cabinet member for shared regulatory services, said: "This case shows a blatant disregard for the legislation that is in place and this isn't the first time that the Council has had to prosecute Darren Beddis, as he has previous convictions under licensing legislation for a different business that he owned in the city.
"It is almost comical that Mr Beddis' defence was that he was trying to protect his business, as the purpose of the legislation is to give the customer the choice whether they want to eat in the restaurant or not. If Mr Beddis wants to protect his business, I would suggest that he gets his business in order and operates in line with the law."