More NYC Restaurants Shut in Rat Scandal
Thursday, March 1, 2007; 3:07 PM
NEW YORK -- The parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut said it had temporarily closed several New York City restaurants owned by the franchisee that operated a Manhattan eatery overrun last week by rats.
In a statement issued late Wednesday, Yum Brands Inc. said the restaurants would remain closed until they underwent new inspections by the city's health department.
"We will not compromise on our food and restaurant quality," said Emil Brolick, a Yum Brands executive.
The company's actions were aimed at the ADF Companies, a Fairfield, N.J.-based group that owns more than 350 fast food restaurants in several states. It is among the nation's largest operators of Pizza Huts.
An ADF-owned KFC/Taco Bell was closed by New York health inspectors last week after TV news crews peering through the windows recorded about a dozen rats skittering across the floors and climbing on tables and countertops. The restaurant wasn't open at the time, and officials later said construction in the basement might have stirred up the rodents.
The video, still circulating on the Internet, also brought shame on the city for giving a passing grade to the restaurant during a health inspection one day earlier.
ADF President Don Harty issued a statement Thursday apologizing to customers.
"We are embarrassed by the situation and stress that certain restaurants did not meet the very high standards that we set for ourselves," he said.
ADF spokeswoman Marissa Smith said she didn't know exactly how many of the company's 20 restaurants in New York City had closed but described it as "a handful." The closures did not extend to other states, she said.
It was unclear how quickly the restaurants might reopen. Smith said each was getting a rigorous new inspection.
Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said the city's failure to immediately shut the Greenwich Village KFC/Taco Bell after learning of the rat problem was unacceptable. The inspector who conducted the initial review has been temporarily removed from field duty.
Frieden also said that other restaurant inspectors could expect a thorough analysis of their work in the coming weeks.