A popular Cardiff restaurant has been branded an "absolute disgrace" and had "put customers at risk" after it was discovered to have an uncontrolled rat infestation, with rodents coming up from the sewers and rat urine dripping down the walls.
A string of health and safety offences were discovered at popular Cardiff restaurant Lilo Grill on City Road as inspectors described it as the "worst case of neglect" that they have come across in the last 15 years.
Inspectors found evidence that rats were dragging away raw meat left out to defrost, leaving streaks of blood on surfaces, as well as eating grease from blocked drains and fat dripping from the extractor fan.
When the case officer investigated the smell in the restaurant, rats were discovered to be living under the floor where customers were eating their food.
The restaurant staff, run by a father and daughter, Sabz Ali Khan, 77, and Sabrina Khan, 41, were also found to have very poor hygiene practices and were not trained or supervised correctly.
Meat was cooked on "filthy" metal racks held together with gaffer tape, salad was stored in a rat-infested storeroom and there was widespread cross contamination between handling raw meat and ready-to-eat foods.
There was also evidence that staff were falsifying Food Safety Management System records.
The City Road restaurant, which has over 400 customer reviews on Google and has a 4-star customer rating, has been accused of putting customers at risk.
Cllr Dan De’Ath, Cabinet Member responsible for Shared Regulatory Services at Cardiff Council, said: “I have been reliably informed by the case officer that this is the worst case of neglect at a restaurant that we have come across in the past 15 years.
"Not only was the state of the property an absolute disgrace that put their customers at risk, but the manager was also very unhelpful and obstructive throughout the investigation.
"To top it all off, the argument he used in his defence that the rats in the restaurant were due to the proximity of students living in the area, is quite honestly laughable.
“If you own or run a food business, you have responsibilities which are laid out in law. If you do not follow the correct practices and allow your business to go into a state of disrepair, you are putting your customers at risk of disease and infection.”
The case came to light through a number of food hygiene safety inspections between August 2019 and January 2020, according to Cardiff Council.
It was also discovered that the rodents had caused significant damage to the property, by gnawing through the shelving, doors, door frames and electric cabling, and causing extensive damage to the inside of the building including eating through two cavity walls and behind the chest freezer.
A father and daughter have been ordered to pay a total of £10,000.
Mr Sabz Ali Khan, 77, and Miss Sabrina Khan, 41, who represented themselves in court, were found guilty on February 21st, 2023, of 18 offences following a trial at Newport Crown Court.
Both defendants were sentenced on 23 March 2023 for the offences. The legal Food Business Operator of Lilo Grill is ‘Nightcover Limited’ and Sabrina Khan is the sole director of the business.
Nightcover Ltd was also ordered to pay £18,500.
Her father Sabz Khan managed the day-to-day operations of the restaurant.
According to Cardiff Council, on 15 August, 2019, Mr Khan agreed to close the business voluntarily until the required works had been carried out and was given permission to reopen at the end of August when the works had been carried out.
However, a number of Improvement Notices were issued for both food hygiene and health and safety offences and a number of these were not complied with, so the case was filed for legal action.
Nightcover Ltd was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £6,500 in costs; Sabrina Khan was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and Sabz Ali Khan was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,500 in costs.
The council understands that Mr Sabz Ali Khan is appealing his conviction.