Restaurant owner 'in shock' after rat allegedly found in chowder
The owner of a chowder restaurant in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood has apologized after a customer allegedly found a dead rat in her meal – and a commercial kitchen where the soups are prepared has been closed by health officials.
The claim first came to light Thursday after a social media user posted video purportedly showing a rat being lifted out of a bread bowl at Crab Park Chowdery.
"Today my friend ordered Manhattan clam chowder and (it) had a little surprise in it," the poster wrote.
The short video prompted a swift reaction online, and resulted in several complaints to Vancouver Coastal Health on Friday morning.
Inspectors have allowed Crab Park Chowdery to remain open, but a rented off-site kitchen space where the soups are usually prepared has since been forced to close.
Social media video allegedly shows a rat being lifted out of bread bowl on a spoon at Crab Park Chowdery. (Instagram)
Vancouver Coastal Health spokesperson Tiffany Akins told CTV News that inspectors found "evidence of rodents" at the space, which is located inside Mamie Taylor's, a separate restaurant in Chinatown.
"We immediately closed Mamie Taylor's restaurant and commercial kitchen," Akins told CTV News in an email.
Crab Park Chowdery owner Ashton Phillips said he's been struggling to understand how something like this could have happened.
"We're kind of in shock over it all," Phillips said. "We've gone through rigorous, rigorous amounts of work to make sure that we offer the best possible health and safety standards."
Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed there were signs of rodents – droppings, specifically – during an inspection at Crab Park Chowdery back in February, but it appears the issues were addressed the same month.
A follow-up inspection conducted on Feb. 23 no longer found any issue with rodents, nor did later routine inspections conducted in April or October.
"(Inspectors) cleared us to be open. They don't think it was something that we did in our process, they've told us that," Phillips said.
After Thursday's incident, Phillips said the restaurant apologized to both patrons involved and offered them a $100 gift card. Staff also dumped out all remaining soups and started from scratch.
Phillips became emotional while describing the impact the video has already had on his young business, including dozens of new one-star reviews online.
"I built this thing from the ground up. We've been here for two years now and to have a video or just a picture – I'm sorry, I'm going to get emotional – a video or a picture just threaten to implode all of that is really unfortunate," Phillips told CTV News.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Breanna Karstens-Smith