The former owner of Brazilian radizio restaurant House of Tiago in Norwich has been ordered to pay more than £19,500 in fines and costs for food safety and hygiene offences.
Norwich council environmental health officers visited the steakhouse restaurant two weeks after it opened on 12 June last year to find the premises cluttered, the wall tiles dirty and in poor condition and a fire exit blocked by a cabinet, Norwich magistrates court heard on Wednesday.
In his defence former owner Paul Gourlay said the problems had been caused by opening the restaurant too soon after spending £200,000 on improvements.
Yvonne Blake, prosecuting on behalf of Norwich City Council, said inspectors found the kitchen washbasin was disconnected, that there was no soap or means of drying hands, a bad crack in the ceiling, and dirt on the extraction system and light fittings.
One food handler was found to have dirt under his fingernails, said Blake, adding that there was no documented food safety management system in place.
Gourlay, from Leeds, admitted 11 breaches of food safety and hygiene regulations and was fined £1,500 for each offence. He was also made to pay £2,919 in costs and a £150 victim surcharge. The fines and costs totalled £19,569.
The court heard that the restaurant has taken immediate steps to remedy the failures.
Chairman of the bench, Adrian Greenwood said Gourlay had been trading under "appalling conditions," but gave him credit for his early guilty plea and accepted he immediately addressed all the concerns.
Acting for Gourlay, Tim Cary, said Gourlay had taken over the building in a much worse state of repair than he'd expected, adding it was an "utter tip" and that Gourlay's mistake was to open the restaurant too soon.
"This is not a man who ran an unsafe restaurant," he said. "It was not a case of profit before compliance. They made the mistake of opening before they were ready."
The current owner, Hayley Evans of Northern Star Ventures, told The Caterer all health and hygiene issues had been addressed immediately after the visit by inspectors, which was before she became owner of the restaurant. She added that the restaurant is trading well and the company plans to open a second venue in Lincoln "in the next few weeks".
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