A customer complaint filed in May with the Contra Costa County Environmental Health Division has resulted in a ruling of probation against the Round Table Pizza restaurant on Crow Canyon Road in San Ramon.
Joe Doser, supervising environmental health specialist, said the issue first came to light May 22 when a consumer complaint was filed after a customer reportedly saw a rat at the food establishment. Doser said that in all cases where a report of this sort is made, they send an inspector to the site.
"We have to look into all of these reports," he explained. "So we went out and investigated and confirmed the complaint."
The inspector found a number of issues with the restaurant, including a live rat found in a trap on the premises, droppings, cross contamination of food, improper food storage and improper storage of utensils.
The Round Table was closed for one day, while cleanup crews took care of the issues found by the inspectors. It was inspected again June 2 and again June 3. Several minor infractions were found and again evidence of rodents was seen.
A hearing was held on the closure on June 25. Doser said an administrative hearing is a means for allowing some dialogue between the county and the restaurant. Owners can dispute a ruling by the inspector or they can offer plans on how they intend to mitigate the situation.
Doser said what they heard from the ownership of Round Table was that they had already initiated an administrative shakeup at the restaurant and were putting a plan into place to handle the situation as quickly as possible.
Round Table Corporate Vice President of Operations Gregg Fleury confirmed that they are indeed working closely with the county and are working to alleviate the problem.
"The systems and standards we already have are ones we've redoubled our efforts on. We have daily and weekly cleaning programs. We're keeping a close eye on this restaurant," he stated.
Round Table has been in business for 50 years and currently has 500 restaurants in six states in the western U.S. Fleury said they have very strict guidelines regarding food safety and cleanliness and they will be conducting their own site inspections to be certain they are being met.
He added that they were taking a team approach to dealing with the issue, working with the county, the restaurant, the shopping center and the neighboring businesses.
Doser said that the outline given to them by Round Table regarding their plans for mitigation were good and if followed would result in a clean bill of health for the restaurant.
In the meantime, the result of the administrative hearing was that the restaurant was placed on a one-year probation. During that time additional inspections are set up, at the cost of the restaurant. If the issues are not addressed in a timely fashion, the restaurant could be shut down again and the owners could potentially face civil or criminal charges.
Fleury said the incident at the Crow Canyon location will not be repeated and is not typical of the chain.
"This incident is an aberration and we're not very happy that it happened. But it's been taken care of," he stated.
Round Table has a long history in the San Ramon area, one that Fleury said he hopes to maintain moving forward. "We've put in place a very strict regimen of followup on a daily basis. So I think the public can feel very confident that this is a very safe eating establishment for them."
Doser said inspectors with the Environmental Health Division are a fairly busy crew. There are approximately 4,000 restaurants operating within Contra Costa County. Each year, the office receives 1,000 consumer complaints.
"People think they saw a rat or a cockroach or they got sick. As with all complaints we have to check it out. About 75 percent of them turn out to be valid," he said.
Records of all inspections of restaurants in Contra Costa County are available online. Interested residents can go to www.cchealth.org/groups/eh and click on food facility inspection search. Inspections and findings are available online plus residents can click on another link to request further information on the disposition of a hearing.