Chester restaurateur fined £1,800 for food safety offence

Chester Council food team described the scene at Chai Station, a vegetarian restaurant as ‘dirty and disorganised’

The owner of Chai Station, a vegetarian restaurant in Chester, which was discovered to have rat droppings and fruit flies, has been fined £1,800 for food safety and hygiene offences. 

On 28 October 2020, Cheshire West and Chester Council food team officers visited Chai Station for a general hygiene inspection.

They discovered the kitchen at the premises was “dirty and disorganised”. During the inspection, officers said they found an “extensive accumulation” of dirt and food debris on the floor as well as “rat droppings”.  

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In addition, when the lid of a juicing machine was opened, a large number of fruit flies flew out of the machine and “into the face of the officer”. The walls of the venue were also reported to show signs of damp and mould in some areas.

At the time, officers said there was an “imminent risk” to public health and the premises were closed with immediate effect.  Customers eating at the premises were told to leave.

When interviewed the defendant, Mahendra Bhimji Gohil, said they were opened only three days after lockdown finished, after being closed for three months, and had “never had a rat problem before”.  

He agreed the standard of cleanliness was unacceptable and said he would try to “improve the standard”.

Gohil was fined a total of £1,800 and ordered to pay £1,080 costs and a £190 victim surcharge. The defendant pleaded guilty to 10 food safety and hygiene offences.

Councillor Karen Shore, deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, highways and strategic transport, at Chester Council said: “Officers within our Regulatory Services team work proactively to help business owners comply with legislation and meet hygiene standards and food safety.”

“The vast majority of food establishments in Cheshire West operate to a high standard; we have a duty to the public to take effective action where others do not make the same effort.

She added: “In this case, officers had repeatedly witnessed extremely poor conditions that posed a significant risk to the public and the fine imposed sends a clear and strong message that the courts will treat such situations seriously”.

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