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Popeyes terminates franchise agreement with DC location after viral TikTok shows rats in kitchen

"This single restaurant does not reflect our strong food safety and cleanliness standards across Popeyes," said Popeyes in the statement.
Credit: AP
FILE - This Aug. 22, 2019, file photo shows a chicken sandwich at a Popeyes restaurant in Kyle, Texas. Police in Maryland say a man fatally stabbed another customer outside a Popeyes restaurant in a fight over cutting in line while waiting to buy the recently rereleased chicken sandwich at an Oxon Hill, Md., Popeyes on Monday night, Nov. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

WASHINGTON — Popeyes tells WUSA9 that the fast-food chain has terminated their franchise agreement with the owner of a D.C. location after a viral TikTok showed rats crawling up the walls of the kitchen. 

According to a statement from Popeyes, the operator only owned one location, which is being closed indefinitely.

"This single restaurant does not reflect our strong food safety and cleanliness standards across Popeyes," said Popeyes in the statement. 

RELATED: SE Popeyes closed by DC Health after viral TikTok video shows rats in kitchen, DC councilmember says

The Ward 6 restaurant located at 409 8th Street SE was the backdrop to a viral TikTok video in October. The video showed a man who says he is delivering raw chicken enter the restaurant while it's still dark out and turn on the kitchen lights. Several rats scurry across the floor and under boxes. At least seven rats run up the wall into the ceiling tiles. 

"You still love that chicken from Popeyes?" the video poster says as he turns the camera back on himself.

RELATED: Pest control is an essential job during stay-at-home orders. Here's what that means for DC rats

This location of Popeyes has been inspected by DC Health four times in 2021, once as a routine inspection (April), twice for follow-up appointments (February and June) and most recently, on Oct. 28, as part of a complaint. 

The October inspection report shows more than a dozen violations, including rat droppings being found. Four of the violations were classified as "priority violations." 

The most serious of the violations found incorrect temperatures in the walk-in freezers, leading to the temporary suspension of the restaurant's license.

"Potentially hazardous food (time/temperature control for safety food items in the refrigerator were not held at the proper temperatures and food in the freezer was beginning to thaw," the report says. "You are hereby ordered to Cease & Desist use of the walk-in freezer and walk-in refrigerator EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY."  

Ricardo Land claims to be the person who posted the viral video. He says he has been suspended from his job due to the TikTok and created a GoFundMe in order to help pay for "rent, food or any other necessities to keep my home." 

A spokesperson with Popeyes said Land is not a Popeyes employee, nor one of the Franchisee. However, the spokesperson tells WUSA9 that they have spoken with the vendor Land works for, who claims Land is currently receiving his full pay. 

Land's GoFundMe has raised more than $27,000 as of 1 p.m. Wednesday. 

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