A Kettering restaurant is undergoing a complete kitchen refit after its shocking condition left it with the worst possible food safety rating.
The Telford Lodge Brewers Fayre in Rothwell Road is currently closed, with a notice on the door telling would-be customers that essential maintenance is taking place.
It had been given a hygiene rating of zero stars out of five after an inspector visited the chain restaurant in June.
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And a report released to the Northants Telegraph under Freedom of Information laws this week revealed the extent of its problems – which were still present months AFTER remedial work had first been due to start.
An environmental health officer found the kitchen and adjoining areas were in a poor structural state. Steel props were being used to stabilise the ceiling and an extraction canopy, which were sagging into the centre of the kitchen because of the weight on the suspended ceiling.
The safety report said: "This has caused numerous cracks and loose plaster which present a risk of contamination to foods being prepared below and equipment stored underneath these damaged sections – as well a risk to the health and safety of the staff working in this area.”
The instability of the ceiling and canopy meant extractor filters and piping were not capable of being cleaned, causing a build-up of grease. External cleaners had refused to clean them because of the instability.
A further leak through the ceiling in the corridor adjoining the kitchen and walk-in fridge and freezer had also caused further damage. Foul water leaked into the walk-in fridge and all of the food had been removed or disposed of, with a temporary fridge set up in the hallway.
The safety report added: "The smell from the fridge was extremely pungent. The leak also affected the walk-in freezer and the lighting has been affected and no longer works.”
The restaurant chain was ordered to carry out remedial works within three months.
A structural report carried out in February this year had found the kitchen was safe to use because of the steel props, which had been temporarily installed until remedial work was scheduled to take place in March.
But when the environmental health officer visited in June no work had started and the site’s condition had further deteriorated. Whitbread, which owns the restaurant, voluntarily closed the kitchen area to seek advice to ensure the safety of those working there and workers are currently carrying out remedial works.
A Whitbread spokesman said: “In line with company policy the site was closed immediately on notification of the low score for remedial works.
"The site is now fully closed to allow for a complete refit of the kitchen and a new roof. The works will take approximately six weeks and, once complete, the environmental health officer will be requested to revisit [the] site to undertake a new food hygiene rating score.
"We look forward to the issues being fully resolved and welcoming guests soon.”