Vancouver Coastal Health looking into video of rat allegedly found in bowl of chowder at restaurant
Vancouver Coastal Health has ordered the closure of an East Vancouver restaurant amid an investigation of a video that allegedly shows a customer finding a rat in their soup.
On Friday, the health authority ordered Mamie Taylor’s on East Georgia Street to close after finding signs of a rodent infestation.
It’s the same restaurant where Gastown’s Crab Park Chowdery — the restaurant where the dead rat allegedly turned up — makes its soup.
Vancouver Coastal Health said the Crab Park Chowdery can continue to operate, so long as it uses a different commercial kitchen to produce its food.
In a statement issued Friday night, Mamie Taylor’s owner Ron Oliver said the commissary kitchen leased to the Crab Park Chowdery is in the basement and “completely separate” from the operations of Mamie Taylors’ own kitchen.
“In the six years since we opened in this location, we’ve never had a situation such as this occur at Mamie Taylor’s, nor with any other tenant of the commissary kitchen,” Oliver said.
“The commissary space leased by Crab Park Chowdery did not pass Vancouver Coastal Health inspection this afternoon. As the commissary kitchen is part of the overall restaurant premises, the space was shut down pending another inspection tomorrow morning.”
Oliver also said the company had previously raised “serious concerns” with the chowdery about food safety and cleanliness.
Crab Park Chowdery owner Donald Ashton Phillips says he got a phone call from a staff member on Thursday to alert him of the incident and went to the Gastown restaurant right away.
“The customer that was involved brought it to the attention of one of the staff and I immediately got a phone call and came down to the restaurant,” he said. “I never actually got to see the rodent myself, because it was discarded before I got here, but I’ve seen the pictures and I’ve seen the video.”
A photo and video of the meal were posted to social media.
“I reached out to both of the girls that were here at the location and talked with both of them, and I felt that we had come to an [amicable] solution,” Phillips said.
“But it seems as though they’ve posted it online and it’s just grown and taken its own life form.”
Phillips said he has no idea how a rodent could have ended up inside a bread bowl in the restaurant where he says staff are fully trained in food safety procedures'.
Now, Phillips says he’s being barraged with hate mail.
“We’re getting berated on Yelp, I’ve been getting messages on Google all morning as well. With people who haven’t dined here, they’re just going strictly off the video,” he said.
“I’m a bit shaken and traumatized by this because I’ve worked so hard for the last two years to make this thing go.”
Vancouver Coastal Health says it is sending an inspector to the restaurant.
According to Vancouver Coastal Health inspection records, pests (including rodents) were found at the restaurant twice this year, most recently in mid-October.
The restaurant has generally high reviews on websites like Yelp, Foodora and Facebook.
Phillips says his staff are fully trained in food safety procedures and really care about what they do, and the food they serve.
He says this is the first time he’s seen this in 25 years in the industry — and going forward, he’s going to be more diligent than ever.