A Hove chef has been banned from his own restaurant because of a rat infestation.
Alaa el-Dein Asfour has also been ordered to pay more than £6,000 in fines and costs by Brighton magistrates.
Brighton and Hove City Council described it as one of the city’s worst food hygiene cases.
Asfour, who owns Riz Raz, a restaurant and shisha house, in Western Road, Hove, admitted 12 food hygiene offences when he appeared at Brighton Magistrates’ Court today.
He was fined £3,000 for the food hygiene offences, ordered to pay legal costs of £3,236 and a £15 victim surcharge.
He was also banned from being involved in the management of any food business and cannot apply for the ban to be lifted for at least six months.
Len Batten, prosecuting on behalf of the council, told the court that Riz Raz had a history of poor compliance with food hygiene regulations.
He said that officers from the council’s food safety team visited the restaurant on Monday 12 October.
They found evidence of an active rat infestation in the food preparation areas and immediately closed the premises.
Rat droppings were found on the floor of the servery, beneath drinking glasses and on the floor in the basement.
The hot water supply and lighting were inadequate and there was a significant build up of grease and dirt on the floor, walls, cooker, oven, worktops, shelves, sink and draining board.
There was evidence of rats gnawing a hole in the wall, flies were seen near the servery area and the electric insect killing machine was not operational.
Cutlery, glasses and kitchen equipment, including juicers, blenders, kettle and cake display cabinet were dirty and the microwave oven had encrusted food debris inside.
In addition, an electrical socket was hanging off the wall, toilets needed de-scaling and cleaning, and the hot water heaters and extractor fans were not working.
After the inspection and closure, Asfour employed a pest control company to get rid of the rats. He cleaned the premises and was allowed to reopen the restaurant.
The court was told that this was not the first time that Asfour had been prosecuted for food hygiene offences.
In April he admitted 17 food hygiene offences when he appeared before Brighton magistrates. He was fined £3,400 and ordered to pay costs of £2,200.
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, a member of the council cabinet, said: “This has been one of the worst cases that the city has witnessed for some time.
“I am pleased that the fines imposed reflect this flagrant disregard for public safety.
“A great deal of the food safety team’s time is dedicated to working with businesses to protect public health, and on occasions such as this they rightly take tough action.
“I was shocked by the conditions found at the restaurant but am pleased with the vigilance of the team.
“It is important to the economy of the city that the public are assured that rogue traders are weeded out and dealt with.
“Regular inspections by council officers will continue to ensure that businesses found flouting the food hygiene laws will be brought before the courts and face tough penalties.”