A mouse ran across a restaurant kitchen as council staff raided while customers were enjoying meals, a court heard.
It was spotted by an environmental health officer who found mice faeces in many parts of the Steamboat Inn at Trent Lock, Sawley on August 27 last year.
Erewash Borough Council forced the temporary closure of the business and prosecuted two men for breach of food hygiene laws. Operator Simon Jones was fined £6,000 and Nicolas Crossman, who ran the kitchen, got a £1,000 fine.
Presiding magistrate Jane Harrison told Jones: “We find you highly negligent. You failed to keep the premises clean and in good condition.
“There were mouse faeces and live rodents throughout the premises. Even when warned to take action, you failed to do so. You caused a high risk to the public. It was your responsibility to supervise your employees and maintain standards.
“Clearly you didn’t do this,” added Mrs Harrison at the hearing in Derby on Monday.
Raf Ali, for the council, said they took action after receiving a complaint “regarding mouse activity at the Steamboat Inn.”
Senior environmental health officer Roy O’Driscoll arrived at 12.40pm where a “huge number of clients were eating and drinking,” including children.
Mouse droppings could be seen on the kitchen floor, under a stainless steel table and dishwashing machine. There was “a significant amount of dirt and debris” on the floor.
Faeces were found on a plate used for preparing salads, in a frying pan and around a salad container. More checks revealed droppings around a plate of roasted potatoes and on top of a panini grill while mouse urine stains were spotted. Mr Ali told the three magistrates: “The officer, whilst standing in the kitchen area, saw a mouse run from one side of the fridges under a table where a microwave stood. This was whilst food was still being prepared and served to customers outside. It is very clear that most of the faeces were on the floor and shelves and close to food.”
“In the officer’s view, there was a large population present in these premises.” When traps were set, 42 mice were caught in three nights.
Crossman and Jones admitted failing to maintain clean food premises and failing to have adequate pest control. They must share the council’s costs of £800 and each must also find a £120 government surcharge.
Jones, 50, of Mikado Road, Sawley said a pest control firm was appointed to visit the premises but they had failed to arrive for 13 weeks at the time of the offences.
“I am not saying it is down to them but it was a bad year. We were overstretched. We have cleaned it up now and down what the council told us to put us in the right direction.
“It was built in 1799 and there are always going to be nooks and crannies.
“I am a small business and do the best I can,” said Jones. He told the court that pest control cost £6,000 while he lost takings of £16,000 during the shutdown.
Crossman handed a letter to magistrates after telling them: “I have been going over a few items but I am not very good at speaking.” He declined to comment after the case.