Restaurant Closes After Customer Finds Roach in Takeout
Pho #1 in the Northway Mall hopes to reopen soon
ANCHORAGE - After a long day working as a Certified Nurse's Assistant, Stephanie Williams had a craving for Vietnamese food. She went to Pho #1 in the Northway Mall. "I really enjoyed going there," she said. She and her boyfriend picked up some food to go.
When they got home, they were going to put it in a bowl, when her boyfriend spotted two roaches floating in her soup.
They went back to the restaurant, and when they complained, Williams said the restaurant worker went to get them another serving. Williams insisted he return their money. "If my boyfriend wouldn't have seen it, we would have had cockroach soup!" she said.
Then she posted the pictures of the offending insect to Facebook. By Wednesday, the Instagram photo had been shared over a thousand times. That's how management at the Northway Mall found out about it.
On Monday, the mall closed the restaurant to see what they could do about the problem. By Wednesday city inspectors checked out the establishment.
This wasn't the first time Pho #1 had a violation. Its last inspection was in May of 2011. Then health inspectors found "rodent droppings " throughout the facility.
Municipal records show there was no follow-up.
Deputy Director of Health and Human Services Department Steve Morris says inspectors are behind on restaurant check-ins -- in some cases at least a year behind. "They've had some issues with staffing been down a couple of staff people."
The department usually has six full time health inspectors, but only four are currently employed. "It takes a while to rehire, although we're in the process of doing that right now."
Ma'o Tosi from Northway Mall management spoke for the restaurant owner, who doesn't speak English. "There was never any ill will or trying not to clean the place; it's just one [of] these issues [that] happen every now and then…"
Since she found two cockroaches in her soup, Williams isn't feeling the craving anymore. "Just disappointment," she said. "It was going to be my boyfriend and my daughter. I was going to feed that to my baby and my family was going to eat it."
Once the roaches are cleaned up, the owner hopes the cravings come back.