WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- A new, in-depth review of mouse infested conditions uncovered by WUSA9 at Rockville's Cafe Masala details the conditions inside and shows how health officials took action.
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After WUSA9 observed several potential health hazards at Cafe Masala located at 705 1st Street in Rockville, we spoke to the owner. "These are the worst conditions I have ever seen," investigative reporter Russ Ptacek told the owner over the phone. "You need to come here right away and clean your place."
Ptacek also called the Montgomery County Health Department reporting the unsanitary conditions that may be the grossest Restaurant Alert observations we've ever caught on camera.
MORE: To see hundreds of restaurant closures since 2012, click here.
WUSA9 observed several dead and live mice squirming on sticky glue boards in just about every corner of Cafe Masala's kitchen.
Originally inspectors had closed Café Masala/Ganapati Foods citing 12 violations including rodent droppings found in cabinets and on food contact surfaces; food contaminated with visible rodent gnawing on packages; and evidence of rodent droppings inside display case.
After the above inspection, health inspectors reported the place had been cleaned and sanitized. Cafe Masala was approved to re-open.
Then WUSA9's Russ Ptacek visited the restaurant. With the permission of the owner over the phone, Ptacek started doing his own inspection, looking for the improvements.
In one corner WUSA9 cameras captured images of at least 3 dead mice on one sticky glue
WUSA9 found potentially hazardous conditions in just about every corner of Café Masala.
In addition to the rodents, the facility smelled and conditions at Cafe Masala were filthy. We observed uncovered food sitting on a dirty refrigerator floor, which experts say makes the food vulnerable to contamination.
WUSA9 also observed a broken screen on the rear door. This is a problem because pests can get into the restaurant.
After observing the conditions during his visit, WUSA9's Russ Ptacek got the owner back on the phone and told him, "There are multiple, multiple dead mice stuck on sticky boards, your screen is completely open which is allowing them in, there is food all over the floor. There are flies."
As soon as Ptacek got off the phone with the owner, he called the Montgomery County Health Department. This prompted an immediate reinspection which found 14 violations including numerous live and dead roaches, mouse fecal droppings, a roach crawling inside food display cabinets' shelf and a walk-in refrigeration unit converted to a storage/office room and a damaged rear door screen.
Montgomery County Health Inspectors ordered the premises closed to preserve the immediate health and safety of the community.
Since WUSA9's visit, Montgomery County has reinspected Cafe Masala three times. It failed twice but passed a third inspection and is currently allowed to operate.
Health officials told WUSA9 it plans to follow up with Cafe Masala in one to two weeks.
This week, Montgomery County Health Administrators reviewed food service practices and pest management with the owner of Café Masala.
Mice aren't just gross, the Centers for Disease Control says they can make you sick even if you just touch something contaminated with their saliva, let alone droppings or urine.
If you ever see something like this at a restaurant, the health department will respond the same way to your complaint to protect our community. We've got health department contacts online.
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Click here for health dept. contact info to report violations