Quebec’s ministry of agriculture, fisheries and food has ordered Plateau Portuguese chicken go-to Rotisserie Romados to close for 30 days over health code infractions — but the restaurant says the issues at hand have been addressed.
The Gazette reports that the closure started in recent days, but stems from an inspection almost a month ago, on May 15. Three main issues were highlighted — the presence of rodent excrement, a fridge with an internal temperature higher than the required four degrees Celcius, and a rather general indication that equipment and the restaurant was not sufficiently sanitary.
Owner Manny Machado is disputing the closure before a tribunal on Friday — he tells Eater that the fridge temperature was the main issue, and when the inspection occurred in May, a replacement fridge had already been ordered.
“It was literally days between the inspection and the new fridge arriving, so it was timing more than anything that caused this.”
Rodents are a notorious problem on the Plateau, and Machado says that is also an issue that has been dealt with.
“This neighborhood is synonymous with having vermin, due to the way the city handles garbage and so on. We’ve been sanitized and clean for months, so it comes as a bit of a surprise.”
In the Gazette story, Machado estimated that the restaurant would lose around $10,000 per day of closure — around $300,000 in total. The forced closure — for a whole month, no less — seems heavy-handed. The website for Montreal’s food inspection department does not list any previous fines for Romados. In general, city inspectors issue warnings first, followed by fines for establishments that have not sufficiently addressed any issues; forced closures are rare.
On top of that, penalties for what would appear to be worse infractions have often been relatively restrained — when decomposing mice, mold, and rotting seafood were found at now-closed Plateau restaurant Sushi 999 in 2015, the fine was just $2,500. The same year at nearby restaurant Big in Japan, inspectors uncovered “a lot” of mouse excrement, and yet did not recommend any fine for the presence of vermin, although a $1,500 penalty was imposed for other reasons.