WASHINGTON (WUSA9) The franchise owner at the Metro-Center Cosi – closed a second time by DC Health because of mice - has bet WUSA9 $10,000 his crew will clean up its act when the eatery re-opens.
"I'll put up that $10,000 we don't get cited for rodents in 12 months," Richard Pawlowski, Cosi franchise owner, said Thursday. "Tell me the charity and we'll make the donation on your behalf."
In both Wednesday's closure and the 2013 health hazard suspension, inspectors cited a mouse infestation.
In Wednesday's closure, inspectors cited floors near the oven with "heavy dirty/mouse dropping accumulation," "heavy amount of mouse droppings throughout" the restaurant, and mold in the ice machine.
"We would appreciate it if you do not disturb our customers, partners and management team with unwarranted investigations," wrote then Cosi's regional manager, Yasmin Contreras. "Actions such as looking under our furniture or asking questions aggressively do a great deal of distress towards our customers and our Cosi team."
In the 2013 closure, inspectors cited rodents, rodent droppings, chicken and other foods at potentially sickening temperatures, improper tracking of employee diseases transmittable through food, and sinks too small to clean Cosi's large utensils, trays, and bowls.
PHOTOS: Restaurant Health Suspensions
The Cosi Franchise owner apologized for the regional manager's reaction and for the closure saying the store was implementing steps to avoid it from happening again.
"We have taken the opportunity to provide some additional training to our staff and we have implemented new procedures that reinforce our very high standards of health, safety and hygiene at this and all of our other locations," Richard Pawlowski, Cosi franchise owner, wrote in a 2013 e-mail. "We take the food safety very seriously and we would welcome our guests to visit us to see the high standards that we maintain."
When WUSA9 contacted by WUSA9 Thursday and reminded him of his previous 2013 pledge for new protocols to avoid another infestation, Pawlowski he offered a $10,000 wager that the store would correct the problem.
"I'm as furious as anyone," Pawlowski said. "We had a system in place that I was under the impression was working – that system broke down."
He says previous improvements made the store "water proof," with the front door left as the only way for a mouse to get in – blaming the recent infestation on vendor drivers leaving the door open during deliveries.
He says they are changing delivery methods to ensure the door is not propped open and staff will be responsible to check regularly for any signs of rodents.
"The next step to me is take any uncertainty out of that process to ensure my certified food manager is on site when the delivery arrives," Pawlowski said.
He made his mouse-free 2014 wager when WUSA9 pointed out he'd made similar statements after the 2013 closure.
If Pawlowski wins the wager he's making, WUSA9 will do a story on Cosi's 12 month rodent-free accomplishment (mark your calendar for 2/27/2015).
He says he replaced the entire management team responsible during the 2013 closure and the person in charge of the Metro Center Cosi won't remain in charge.
"We are disciplining people," Pawloski said. "We have a process we have to go through. There are lots of legal implications."