Rat is restaurant’s ‘worst nightmare’
A restaurateur has told how his “worst nightmare” came true when a rat ran into his establishment from the street and leapt on to the shoulder of a female customer.
The incident happened in broad daylight on Friday morning when the facility was packed with customers.
The owner told The Royal Gazette: “As a restaurateur, it is the worst nightmare come true and it's something that we obviously work towards that it would never happen. Unfortunately, these rats will just make their way into any building by customers opening doors or through nooks and crannies.”
He said it was about 11am when the brief incident took place. “A rodent, a rat, jumped on to a customer's shoulder. The customer then screamed and the rat disappeared. A lot of the tables got up and left. It was over pretty quickly.
“What was very unfortunate: at the time our duty manager was in the office on the second floor. She didn't even know about it until minutes later. She wasn't able to deal with this situation and we have never trained our waiters to deal with a situation like that.
“Our first reaction was to notify the health department of the incident. We got their advice on how to go forward and their reaction was to have the bait boxes around the building serviced and to make sure they can do whatever they can do to help us resolve the issue.”
This newspaper understands that the rodent was seen to enter the building through an open door from the street before it approached the customer.
The restaurateur said it was likely to have eaten poison from a bait box and become disoriented. “We have seen rodents around the building and the health department has been working with us, like it does with any food establishment,” he said, adding that it was a freak occurrence and the restaurant had been given a clean bill of health from environmental health inspectors to continue serving food.
A director of the company which owns the restaurant added: “We are in the business of customer service. It's a nightmare come true. An incident like that, it's the death knell for a restaurant. “I just really want to emphasise that we have been authorised to open by the health department.
“They are confident in our sanitation and the food preparation in our facility and it is safe.” Staff have tracked down the customer involved and left a message for her to contact them.
“Obviously it's a very sensitive issue and we'll have to just make it up to her,” said the owner. “We will do whatever it takes to help her get over it.”
The director added: “We really just want to rebuild her confidence in our business and our quality of service and food. We hope that she would still serve as a patron and come back.”
The rat was captured after the incident and destroyed.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The Environmental Health section of the Department of Health routinely works with any member of the public that reports sightings of rodents.
“Work is in progress with a local restaurant to control a reported incident.
“The owner has been vigilant and co-operated fully with all measures necessary. The situation remains under surveillance. The public is reminded to report any concerns to Vector Control at 278-5397.”
Ed Benevides, chief operating officer at City Hall, said he was unaware of Friday's incident. He said it was unlikely that rats were living in the city's sewage system and more likely that they would live off trash dumped in alleys between buildings.
The Department of Conservation Services website says: “Rats have probably been in Bermuda as long as people have. Rats are present pretty much everywhere in Bermuda, but they are rarely seen as they are active at night.
“They can be found in all habitats including small islands and caves, as well as in populated areas, where they scavenge for discarded human food and trash.”
The Royal Gazette has opted not to name the establishment involved in this incident.