Council compelled to close down cockroach-infested restaurant

Merton Council has prosecuted a Wimbledon restaurant owner for neglecting to keep his premises clean and fit for public use.

Mr Chung Chui Kwok (49), former owner of Chinese restaurant Confucius at 271 The Broadway, was fined £5,000 by Kingston Crown Court on 16 April and was ordered to pay £1,700 costs. Mr Kwok had already pleaded guilty to five offences at Wimbledon Magistrates Court earlier this year for owning a food business that was unclean and in a bad state of repair with dirty food preparation equipment and surfaces, having no hand washing facilities on site and exposing food to contamination likely to cause food poisoning.

The prosecution followed a routine council inspection on 24 February 2009, when environmental health officers discovered the restaurant was infested with mice and cockroaches. Food in the store rooms had been attacked by mice and spilt food had become mixed with mouse droppings. In addition to the mouse and cockroach infestations, the cooking range was covered in a thick layer of grease and dirt. Kitchen utensils were stored in a greasy box under the cooking range which also contained mouse droppings.

The council took immediate action and closed the restaurant, setting out conditions that pest control measures should be introduced, contaminated food be destroyed and the premises thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

The restaurant continues to trade as Confucius, but is under new management and has a clean bill of health. The hygiene and cleansing measures imposed by the council were complied with within four days of the restaurant being closed. This meant that the premises was fit to be re-opened to the public. Council officers will continue to ensure that this and other premises in the borough meet the highest standards of hygiene.

Merton Council director of environment and regeneration Chris Lee said: “A healthy local economy is important for Merton and we work with our businesses to help them become established and respected. We always try to help business owners put things right and make the necessary improvements they need to avoid permanent closure. However, the health and well-being of residents and visitors to the borough are a priority for us and we will not tolerate standards anything less than excellent so people can be confident that in Merton only the best will be available to them.”