Chester restaurant owner fined £1,800 for food safety and hygiene offences

24 August 2021

The owner of a restaurant in Chester has been sentenced for food safety and hygiene offences at Chester Magistrates' Court.

On Monday, 23 August, Mahendra Bhimji Gohil (68), owner of the vegetarian restaurant Chai Station at 91 Brook Street, Chester - 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.

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.  There was an extensive accumulation of dirt and food debris on the floor throughout, as well as rat droppings.  Wooden structures had been gnawed by rodents and wire wool had been placed into the gaps as an attempt at a deterrent.  When the lid of a juicing machine was opened, a large number of fruit flies flew out of the machine into the face of the officer.  Walls showed signs of damp and mould in some areas.

Officers were satisfied 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 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.

The District Judge described the pictures as: "stomach churning, revolting" and added: "I'm not surprised the local authority closed you down, quite right to do so, filthy conditions, disgusting."

 The Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, Councillor Karen Shore 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.

"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".

Cheshire West and Chester Council operate a paid for advisory service for all food businesses called the 'GET5' scheme.  Call 01244 973486 for more information visit: https://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/business/business-hub/Food-businesses.aspx.

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