Employees claim rodent infestation at popular East End chicken restaurant

Published: Mar. 15, 2016 at 12:36 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2016 at 6:14 AM EDT
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Former and current employees claim there is a rodent infestation at a popular chicken restaurant in the East End. They shared pictures and videos of the alleged rodent issue with NBC12's Chris Thomas.

Chris has been investigating the claims for several weeks. He has spoken to the franchise owner and to the health department.

First, a former Church's Chicken employee sent NBC12 pictures and video of what he alleges is a live rat at the Church's Chicken on Mechanicsville Turnpike. Now, a current employee is speaking out.

"I'm the second person," said the employee, who did not want to be identified. "Everybody else is scared to speak up. I'm the second person. He's not lying. The pictures are real."

That former employee took to Facebook, saying he fears for the health of other people. In one photo, it appears something has eaten through a container.

"We sell tea and we sell lemonade, and those are the half-a-gallon containers for 2.49 that the rats eat through," said the employee. "It's a big problem...a huge problem...I mean the environment is infested. It has rodents."

Chris Thomas got his hands on the latest health inspection report from back in January. No risk violations were noted in the inspection. When NBC12 first launched its investigation back in February, health inspectors went back out to the restaurant and sent Chris Thomas an email saying nothing out of the ordinary was found.

"I don't think the public should come there at all to eat," said the employee. "I just don't... I mean it's not sanitary. It's not. Who wants to eat out of a place that has rodents?"

The franchise owner denies the allegations, saying:

"Church's Chicken® maintains some of the highest standards of restaurant cleanliness and operations and we take allegations of us not meeting these standards seriously. Regarding the Richmond location in question, we immediately reviewed health inspection reports and conducted a thorough in-person audit and found the allegations to be unfounded. The individual in question left the employment of the location earlier in the week involuntarily and this could have played a role in the post."

After calling the owner to get a comment now that a current employee is also making similar allegations, NBC12 was told they had nothing additional to add.

"I know what I see," said the employee. "I work back there everyday, 30 or 40 hours a week. At night, the rats come out when it gets quiet. And under the sink is the little paper torn up. They are still in there. It's no way that they are not."

The health department says the restaurant is in a risk three category because they deal with raw food. That means they are required to be inspected every 120 days. The health department says they did not see a history of problems.

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