WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA9) - A Maryland pizza place ordered closed for health violations and featured in a Restaurant Alert report has posted a YouTube protest suggesting WUSA9 planted a cockroach to make his restaurant look bad.
The YouTube plea has already gotten more than 300 hits and a couple of sympathetic comments.
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"Leave ZZ Pizza alone!!" commented one man who identified himself as a restaurant industry professional. "It's a shame Russ would try to put a small business down 30% in sales."
In a report scheduled to air Tuesday night at 5:00 pm, WUSA9 states "we don't now, and we have never planted a roach or any other gross thing anytime, anywhere in anyway."
"My kitchen is spotless," Mt. Rainier ZZ Pizza owner Mohammed Jangier said along with a theory that WUSA9 is responsible for the cockroach recorded at the restaurant's front carryout counter.
"It could be that big roaches could be flying from outside and end up in my dining....in front," Jangier said in the YouTube video.
"Second thing, Mr. Russ had it in his pocket and he bring it with him and he showed it to the camera to get a better rating," Jangier said. "He was not only wrong, he was totally wrong."
Jangier said he will quit if anyone finds a real roach in his kitchen.
"Come to my kitchen and watch it yourself," Jangier said on YouTube. "If you find any roaches, I will quit this business. My 20 years, whole profession, I will quit."
On the YouTube video he also questions health inspectors' ability to identify real roaches saying what they cited as roaches were "insects" but not actual roaches.
The health department cited ZZ Pizza, 4000 34th St., for "rat droppings by the back door," "dead and live cockroaches in facility storage areas," and "dead cockroaches present in prep unit."
In the video Jangier insisted the droppings came from mice and were outside.
Jangier said the WUSA9 report unfairly harmed his business.
Although a worker told WUSA9 the restaurant was not staffed by anyone trained in food safety during our visit (as required by law), in the video he states a certified worker was on the premises but unable to identify himself because he doesn't speak English.
"My business is 30% down," Jangier said. "I didn't do anything wrong."
Health department officials also reported chicken wings left at room temperature and cheese at 61 degrees (41 degrees is the maximum temperature health department allow keep food safe).
ZZ Pizza passed a health department re-inspection and reopened prior to our look inside the kitchen.
Although the report stated WUSA9 found no signs of vermin inside his kitchen, Jangier said the report underplayed the time spent inside his kitchen and didn't emphasize enough that the only roach WUSA9 found was outside his kitchen at the carryout window.
"I want to tell you my side of story," Jangier said. "Wrong, wrong, wrong. He spent 30 minutes in my kitchen. He went to every single corner trying to find a roach or mice dropping."
He also argued that the large cockroach we did find isn't the type that would seek out his kitchen.
"This big size of roach, never, ever existed in the kitchen," Jangier said.