Monday, June 11, 2007

Where's a cat when you need it?

At any other time, it might have been sloughed off as one of the unfortunate occurrences that can embarrass even the most careful of restaurateurs. But Pizza Hut is a Yum! Brands concept, so when it's mentioned in the same breath as a rodent infestation, the world takes notice. Because, sadly for Yum, the world hasn't forgotten that its Taco Bell chain was the scene of a veritable rat cotillion earlier this year, still visible in videos posted on YouTube and other highly trafficked clip websites.

This time, according to internet and news reports, the overrun store was a Pizza Hut in Raleigh, N.C. Health authorities closed the outlet last week after a shift manager reportedly found six mice stuck to a glue trap. For up to two weeks prior, she said, relatives of the nabbed six could be seen scampering through the place.

"I saw about 10 mice," Venice Spivey was quoted as telling local station WRAL. "Everybody saw them. Customers saw them. We had customers calling us to the dining room, saying, 'Look, we've got friends.'"

According to a story on the station's website, Spivey was fired for alerting health officials.

After rats were videotaped inside a Taco Bell/KFC combo franchise in New York, Yum hired Bobby Corrigan, a noted scourge of the rodents, to help the company avert another vermin scandal. Corrigan is to rats what the late Steve Irwin was to crocodiles. "We have been working around the clock to prevent this from happening again," Emil Brolick, president of Yum's domestic division, said at the time.

The company may want to can Corrigan and just hire a bunch of cats.

At least it has the comfort of knowing it's not the only restaurant giant having pest problems. The Toronto Star reported that a local family has sued McDonald's of Canada after allegedly finding a rat's head, complete with whiskers, in a burger. Meanwhile, mainland China's state press agency reported that a student collected $290 from the fast-food chain after being bitten in one of its units by a rat.

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