Mouse photo taken at Nipomo Carl’s Jr. goes viral, but inspection clears restaurant

Mouse photo prompts closure of Nipomo fast-food restaurant

A picture of a mouse at a Carl's Jr. in Nipomo on Sept. 10, 2017, promoted a temporary closure of the restaurant on Sept. 11.
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A picture of a mouse at a Carl's Jr. in Nipomo on Sept. 10, 2017, promoted a temporary closure of the restaurant on Sept. 11.

San Luis Obispo County health officials said no evidence of a rodent infestation was found at the Nipomo Carl’s Jr. after a widely shared Facebook post allegedly showing a mouse at the fast-food restaurant prompted an inspection Monday.

“We did not see any signs of an infestation,” environmental health supervisor Leslie Terry said Tuesday. “We conducted a thorough inspection. As you know, we can’t shut down people for a social media post.”

Terry said the restaurant already had “preventative measures” such as bait boxes and sticky traps in place and had an ongoing contract with a pest control service.

The Nipomo restaurant has been cited twice this year for “observed rodent droppings,” according to county inspection reports. After being dinged for it in early June, a re-inspection at the end of the month found the problem had been sufficiently addressed.

“They were frustrated,” Terry said of the Monday inspection. “They said they’ve noticed an uptick, with a lot of construction in the neighborhood in Nipomo recently. ... Generally speaking, when there is a disruption in an area, (pests) are going to get up and leave and relocate somewhere else. It does happen.”

According to Terry, the franchise owners voluntarily closed the restaurant Monday to address the problem. A car blocked the drive-through for most of the day, and a sign on the door declared “we are closed for the day.”

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A notice posted on the fast food restaurant Monday evening said the business would reopen as usual Tuesday. Ayslyn Leslie

The inspection came after a widely shared Facebook picture circulated online, claiming to show a mouse in the restaurant between a soda dispenser and salsa bar.

In a Facebook post Sunday, Jennifer Coleman said she was in the restaurant with her daughter when she saw the mouse in the dining area.

“I was grossed out,” she said. “I was stunned, too. It’s not something you think you’re going to see, and it’s things like this that you hear about in larger cities, not here in Nipomo.”

Coleman said she informed employees and management of the mouse and later contacted the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department.

“There are very few choices for food in Nipomo,” she said. “I hope they get themselves together and cleaned up. … I won’t go back for quite awhile, that’s for sure.”

As of Tuesday evening, the post had more than 1,200 reactions and 560 shares.

Calls and emails to Carl’s Jr. corporate office were not returned Tuesday, but in a statement to KSBY, the corporate office said: “We are aware of the image posted online. Carl’s Jr. takes its commitment to food safety and quality seriously. Although the restaurant passed a health inspection this morning, we decided to proactively close the restaurant today while further corrective action is taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again. We apologize to our customers for any concern this has caused.”

Calls to the Nipomo location Tuesday were unsuccessful.

According to Terry, the restaurant plans to contract with a new pest control service and will no longer operate the salsa bar pictured in the post until the concerns can be fixed.

“They want to make things better,” she said. “That’s not where any business wants to be.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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