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Mouse in the restaurant's dining room.... [moved from Manhattan board]

Let's say you were in a restaurant, a little after 12 midnight, patrons still dining, and a mouse ran in and around the dining room a few times....manager says this is NYC, what do you expect.....what say you - is that while unfortunate a not unheard of event - or would it make the place a no-go in your book ? Let's say further that the price point is mid-level to high, and place is enjoying a buzz at the moment.....not least on CH......

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  1. From your title, I thought the mouse was in YOUR dining room. Manager is lucky someone didn't shriek and disturb everyone (in other words, lucky I wasn't there). The manager's attitude, as much as the mouse, would cross it off my list.

    1 Reply
    1. re: oya

      I amended the title in light of your comment!

    2. I wouldn't go back. If there is a mouse running about the dining room, I hate to imagine what's going on in the kitchen. Maybe there's a whole family running about the kitchen.

      1. I've had mice in my house, once had a chipmunk. Mice and other rodents will come to food and water. Restos have those things and, depending on their location, may have dumpsters etc. out back. A siren's song. It wouldn't bother me in the least. I'd laugh a lot. And, please, I hope this doesn't go along the "should I have been comped?" vein. NO!

        12 Replies
        1. re: c oliver

          Being comped was not my question or my interest. I wasn't at the resturant myself but but heard this account, (and it did influence my decision of where to eat). And I wondered what other CHs would make of it.

          1. re: angelaangel

            Oh, I wasn't implying you re the comp. But there does seem to be contingent who look for comps any chance they get :)

            I'm curious why one mouse one time would have influenced your decision. I'm not challenging you just asking. They're just a fact of life, I feel.

            1. re: c oliver

              Realistically - I accept that mice will be wherever people, food, warmth are. But I'd rather not pay for the experience. Also I would have shrieked like a maniac (the motion scares me) - something the world can do without having to hear, especially in proximity to wine glasses which would shatter !

              1. re: angelaangel

                I'll admit that when my husband and I were trying to "herd" the chipmunk out of our bedroom, there was plenty of shrieking on both our parts but that was our irrational selves. I'm not going to deny myself the pleasure of a good meal because of it. But to each her own :)

              2. re: c oliver

                Yes - I see what you mean re: looking for comps - I wondered if that was what the manager was afraid of. In the account I heard, everyone in the dining room noticed, and the comps would have really added up!
                On a semi-related note, a few weeks back a bat got into our place, and my husband had to deal with it (it didn't bother him. He felt bad for the bat and he thinks bats are cute. He shooed it out the window.) He's British, so there was the stiff upper lip, spirit of Dunkirk thing. (I unhelpfully point out the British lost at Dunkirk)....but the bat made it to safety:)

                1. re: angelaangel

                  You are kidding. Comps all around for a mouse in the house? The mgr. should charge extra for the petting zoo. Catch 'em if you can.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    LOL I'm thinking they should break out the Fondvoodoo pots.

            2. re: c oliver

              I'm with you. I used to work at a place that was called "(name) Ranch." It was, in fact, a ranch. It was spotlessly clean, but mice come with the territory. There were also deer and snakes, but fortunately, they stayed out of the kitchen.

              1. re: manraysky

                Sounds like my experiences in Banff. It was a regular occurrence to have striped ground squirrels running around the dining room. And we couldn't really do much about it, because it's a national park. No killing animals allowed.

                One night, one squirrel got into the kitchen through the open back door. We chased him around and thought we got rid of him, but then in the middle of service one of the other chefs opened the walk in fridge and there he was. Sitting on the lid of the stock container, with an onion in his paws, eating away. Ended up cornering him under a shelf in the fridge. One guy put on the big thick gloves we had for cleaning the fryer and grabbed him. Or actually it was a mutual grabbing. The guy had the squirrel's tail in his right hand and the squirrel had his teeth firmly dug into a finger of the glove of the left hand. And the squirrel was returned to the forest...greasy and with onion breath.

                1. re: Sooeygun

                  We were in a VERY high-end store in Banfff (looking not buying) some years ago. A staff person told us about the day a moose strolled in, ambled around inside the store (everybody went stone still as they didnt want him to freak out and destroy the store) and then sashayed back out again.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    sounds like he was a bit more graceful than the Cincinnati Whole Foods deer:

              2. re: c oliver

                Whoops! I posted under the wrong reply. I was responding to c oliver.

                I agree! Although I wouldn't want to see it running around the dining room, I'm certain I've eaten at places that have had mice ( and far, far worse pests). Things happen. As long as it isn't *in* my dish, I probably wouldn't be that worried.

                My mother, on the other hand...

              3. One of the major problems with American health departments is they exclude animals from restaurants. If there were a cat or a terrier on the premises, the mice would stay away!

                Seriously, while it's true a restaurant that's dirty will tend to become infested, a single mouse does not an infestation make. The little suckers move quick, are hard to exclude (they can fit through a gap the thickness of a dime), and range far afield in search of food, water, shelter, warmth, and mousy entertainment. The manager should have been more solicitous, but it just isn't that big a deal.

                1 Reply
                1. re: alanbarnes


                  You have some country boy in you. I identify strongly with that.

                  A terrier for the rats, a cat for the mice, and a herding dog or three. Sounds like life in the country.

                  Repeated mice would chase me away, 1 wouldn't. I have a friend who has waited tables at some of the big ticket restos in the Napa Valley. His biggest gripe was the mice that found their way into the dining room.

                  The place is located on the edge of a vineyard. Mice are simply a fact of life.

                2. I respect the taste of a small rodent who knows where to go, without the benefit of a gourmet website called Chowmouse. The resto would move up two notches on my list.

                  1. my parents have had mice in their house. i discovered this while visiting them a few years ago when i spotted one as it poked its head out from under the dishwasher in the middle of dinner. did i decide right then & there never to eat another meal at my parents' house? no. but i did sleep with one eye open that night ;)

                    seriously though. yes, it skeeves me out a bit to think about critters scurrying around in restaurant kitchens...but that's why i try not to think about it. if i insisted on dining only in restaurants that i was sure had never housed the errant rodent, i'd likely be out of options. and while i'd *prefer* not to see one scampering across the room while i eat, i'll take a mouse over an NYC subway rat or a roach any day! (i'm particularly squeamish about roaches, don't ask me why.)

                    the manager probably could have handled it a bit more diplomatically, but it's really not a big deal.

                    1. Used to get a mouse, once a year, in our kitchen. It happens. One mouse alone would not make me avoid a place that I otherwise liked. Now, a dozen mice dancing on the tables, I would have to rethink my dinner plans.

                      1. Rats would bother me. Mice probably should, since they do carry disease, but one wouldn't concern me. I grew up in the country, and we often had mice in the house. I remember my neighbor's mother (a *great* and thoroughly clean housekeeper) had one cabinet a mouse particularly liked annually from autumn through spring. He was considerate enough not to bring his entire family to live with him, but she often opened the cabinet door to find him peeping out at her. I've had mice in the basement here. I've had mice eat the fuel line on one car at this house, and I've had mice set up a nest underneath the carburetor (sp) on another, without actually doing any damage.

                        IOW, I'm probably wrong about this, but I always think that rats go to food sources--i.e., where garbage has not been properly tended to--and mice go to shelter-- i.e., where it's warm.

                        I'd rather not see a colony of mice running to and fro across the counters and cutting boards in a restaurant, but one late at night making a cameo appearance wouldn't bother me. Because what I've found out living half my life in rural areas is that whether or not you see them, they are with you, and I don't mean in spirit. They're just usually shy.

                        1. to be honest one mouse in the dining room probably does mean there are others somewhere. Mice leave grease stains on the kickboards so you can actually see their paths. Trust me, once everyone leaves the resto, the mice will come out to play and run over all the surfaces of the kitchen. They are extremely hard to get rid of and live in walls and ceilings. Bet you anything the resto has mouse traps in the kitchen but as long as they show they are trying to do something about the 'problem' the Health Dept let it go pretty much.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: smartie

                            I don't mind so much the Health Department letting that go if the owner is making the effort. To me, it's much more important that the Health Department pursue cross-contamination matters, poor temperature-storage practices, and employees either not washing their hands enough or double-dipping when cooking my food.

                          2. Mice are like feral cats- if you see one, there are tens to hundreds there that you're not seeing. If I saw a mouse run through the room in a mid to high priced restaurant, I would have absolutely flipped out!

                            1. The mouse would bother me plenty, but the manager's response would bother me even more. I've been eating in Manhattan restaurants for four decades, and in all that time I've had exactly one mouse sighting - it was a mama mouse and her offspring, ambling out from beneath the bar and cruising unmolested about the dining room. When I pointed this out to our waitress, she shrugged and laughed. I'm not particularly squeamish - vermin happens - but her cavalier attitude indicated to me that cleanliness was not a priority for that restaurant, so I never returned.

                              1. Well I'd would tend to agree. It's NYC, what do you expect? Don't even go into a kitchen at night with the lights off. Once we were at this restaurant in an un-named country and a huge rat ran across the dining room.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: PeterL

                                  <Once we were at this restaurant in an un-named country and a huge rat ran across the dining room.>

                                  And that proves that all NYC restaurant dining rooms are infested with mice?

                                  1. re: small h

                                    Dosen't prove anything, just that we Americans make too much of a deal about these things. Do it like other countries, allow cats in a restaurant, takes care of the mouse problems.

                                    1. re: PeterL

                                      I totally agree.
                                      If there's a cat around the mice/rats are nowhere to be seen....the scent of the cat precludes them from coming.
                                      Then the people who'll be bitching about the cat and their allergies won't come either.

                                    2. re: small h

                                      No, but it's an indisputable fact that New York has a decent rat population. And it's a fair bet that there's not a single restaurant dining room there that has never seen a rat scamper across its floor.

                                      But the occasional transient rat or mouse is a whole different thing than a resident population. One's unavoidable; the other is a sign of uncleanliness. And ratters - feline, canine, or otherwise - are a good deterrent, but not a guarantee that you'll never see a rodent in the place.

                                      Trust me, I know. In my house we're scrupulous about sealing up anything that might attract rodents. But the dogs still catch one or two rats a year in the kitchen or under the water heater. The filthy critters live in the neighborhood, and are always willing to stop by for a visit on the off chance they'll find something to eat.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        <No, but it's an indisputable fact that New York has a decent rat population.>

                                        And I wouldn't dream of disputing it. In my original response to the OP, you'll see that I objected less to the mouse than to the manager's attitude (which PeterL seems to share): "It's NYC, what do you expect?" Well, I expect restaurants to care about cleanliness. Even in NYC. Especially in NYC, actually, because that's where I do most of my eating (because I live here).

                                  2. I'd stay away.
                                    The manager's casual attitude tells me they have a infestation and they know they could be shut down by the health department. They aren't just running around the dining room exercising, they're in the dry food storage areas inside boxes and bags of stuff leaving you know what behind.

                                    Having spent time in the restaurant business....we noticed some boxes in the pantry with tell tale holes in them and immediately called the exterminator. Exterminator came and eradicated them in less than a week with traps. If you ever look outside a free standing restaurant you'll notice flat black boxes around the outside walls, those are rodent traps.

                                    1. Does he make an excellent ratatouille? ;)

                                      Seriously, it would for me. I know things happen, and maybe it was just a random one...but what if it wasn't? What if there is an infestation in the kitchen? Why be uncomfortable? There's plenty of other places to eat.

                                      I once was having drinks (no food at the time) at a bar/restaurant that I noticed was going downhill in recent visits. I looked up at the exposed ceiling rafters and noticed a mouse scampering along a beam. I put down my drink and got out of there as soon as I could. Lord knows what could have dropped in my glass! Not surprisingly, the place closed a short time later.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: lawgirl3278

                                        Similar experience here...on the way to the restroom I noticed a huge animal scurrying across the hall. At first I thought it was a cat, but it was a huge rat. Shortly thereafter that restaurant closed for good.

                                        1. re: monku

                                          When I was 3, I didn't know the word for 'rat' yet, but I did know 'mouse' & 'cat', so when I saw something the size of a cat that looked like a mouse, I reported to my much older brothers & sisters that I'd seen a 'mouse-cat'. They of course didn't believe until a short while later my brother was taking a bath & we hear a strange noise. Seems he saw the 'mouse-cat' too, but he hit it with belt buckle to knock it out & it was quickly disposed of outside on the farm. That is how I learned the word 'rat'...

                                      2. on the other hand what is the manager to say? If he says 'oh yes we know we have a problem we have visits from the exterminator and the kitchen is full of traps' well, how would you feel.
                                        he could say 'oh my goodness, I'll call the exterminator in the morning'. would you have felt any better?

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: smartie

                                          How about just an apology? And at the very least, the second statement would have been reassuring.

                                          My husband and I were eating at a rest. once when we noticed a roach crawling along the wall. We did not make a spectacle but quietly informed the manager. He and his staff managed to handle the situation very unobtrusively and got rid of the roach. Most of the other patrons didn't even notice what was going on. He later came back to us and was very, very apologetic. It was clear he was embarrassed by what had happened.

                                          We've gone back since. But if the manager had shrugged us off with an offhand remark like the one the OP got, we would never have gone back.

                                          An apology is sometimes all it takes to right a wrong.

                                          1. re: smartie

                                            The latter statement would be better even if it's a lie.
                                            The first statement tells me they've been into the food and contaminating it and everything else.

                                            1. re: monku

                                              I think the manager's shrug suggests to me that he knows the restaurant has a problem with rodents. If this had been a first time occurence then I would have expected the Manager to be shocked and flustered, not to mention embarrassed.

                                            2. re: smartie

                                              That's what I was thinking. What should he say and how should he say it? And what should the customer say? As a customer I wouldn't want to damage the owner's image in front of a room full of customers because of a single mouse sighting. And it's difficult for the manager to address you if within earshot of several others tables; all hell could break loose. I say better to let the manager know quietly when you're leaving and then see how he apologizes/explains.

                                            3. At a mid- to high-level price-point rest., I would expect a better response from the manager--at the very least, show some contrition, not this blase attitude. This reminds me of an article I read in which many patients who sued their doctors for misdiagnosis said that if only their doctor would have apolgoized, they would not have sued. Seems like sorry is the hardest thing to say for some people.

                                              For the attitude alone, I would not go back.

                                              1. To all those who say "if you see one mouse, there are bound to be more":

                                                That's true. There are millions more. All over the city. But who's to say that there are any others in that restaurant? Mice don't limit themselves to a single room or building.

                                                Any restaurant with a rodent infestation knows it's in danger of getting shut down by the health department, so **not** calling an exterminator is a stupid business decision. Unless there are other obvious signs that the place is not being maintained properly, avoiding a restaurant because you see a single mouse is like claiming that it's unsafe because there was once a traffic accident out front.

                                                1. Towards the end of this is what you are supposed to do when you encounter a mouse in a restaurant:


                                                  an immortal scene from the Best Picture of 1938.

                                                  1. I think many hundreds of Hounds who live in or have had living experiences in developing countries quietly laugh when the issue of a mouse or a roach sighting bubbles up and near-panic ensues.
                                                    And to expect free food for having witnessed one? I would love to see a mouse scurrying across the marble floors among the planted palms and the strolling violins during afternoon tea at the Palm Court at the Plaza hotel...I would buy him a cheese plate.

                                                    1. Dining outside in LA I see them all the time in high end restaurants and they don't bother me.
                                                      However inside dining and seeing one run across the floor reminds me of the time, many years ago during my teens, when a friend of mine, working in a popular fried chicken joint in town, found a good sized one deep fried along with the pieces of chicken. Luckily she found it before it went to the customer. I've never been able to get that visual out of my mind.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. It is disconcerting to be sure, but not 100% a sign of infestation or dirtiness.

                                                        A few years ago I was working at a pretty nice place, saw a mouse in the kitchen and alerted the chef to get mousetraps. Well, we caught the mouse, then over the next week caught her eight babies (they were so cute with their little peanut butter smeared faces, the prep cook and i made up names for them as we caught them). She had made a nest near a crack in the wall of our stairs. We sprayed regularly for bugs and I hardly saw more than an ant or two - I guess there had been issues previously, but they were kept under control. The chef was really fanatical about not having pests.

                                                        Pests happen, even the most vigilant places get a mouse or bug here or there. Heck, my house gets ants and mice and spiders and flies and a rat every now and then. If the place seemed otherwise clean and the food was good, a mouse would not keep me from coming back. A few months ago I was in Vietnam having dinner at a little hole in the wall place. At first I was a little surprised to see a rat nosing around, but when you only have three walls and the front is open, how are you going to keep the rats out? And the food was soooo delicious.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: babette feasts

                                                          You bring up a very good point.
                                                          Yes, pests happen, and some people go to great lengths to prevent it from happening.
                                                          Leave out food in a dorm room and the ants will come. Leave out food in a kitchen and if there's an inch size whole in the wall the rats will come....it doesn't necessarily mean the food's good.
                                                          Standards of cleanliness, as we all know, vary from country to country and town to town.
                                                          An occasional mouse running across the floor in the country I live in is one thing. An occasional rat doing the same thing is quite another. While they're both vectors for certain diseases a rat is more likely to turn the clientele off.
                                                          I have frequented a Vietnamese restaurant for many years in the area I live. I'm also a loyal client at a nail place in the area I live. I love the people, the food and the service they provide. When I, a few months ago, noted their less than stellar clean salon had created a nail fungus their reaction was 'so'? When an occasional mouse and cockroach flies across the floor the cockroach is simply stepped on by the owner and the mouse just disappears behind the desk.
                                                          I don't live in a third world country. I travel them but I'm content to know, in the country I reside, there is some level of cleanliness that, hopefully, will prevent a cockroach from landing in my soup or a rat from scurrying across the table where I eat. I know they're outside the restaurant but I like to think the management is, at least, attempting some sort of prevention to allow me to eat in peace.

                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                            Sure everyone is attempting to keep the rats out. I have no idea how the rodent population of NYC compares to the rodent population of any other city, but they are always out there, often trying to get in, and sometimes do.

                                                            1. re: babette feasts

                                                              Well of course they do...
                                                              Most people are shocked when they learn about the ratio between humans and rats...it's astounding.
                                                              Rats don't differentiate between the poor and the wealthy, the sick and the healthy, the prosperous and the low income areas. They are, virtually, everywhere.
                                                              The key is to be proactive, or at least attempt it.
                                                              Beverly Hills has some of the largest rats in the country but I've yet to see one scurrying around in Cut. I'd hear about it if they were.

                                                          2. re: babette feasts

                                                            AND you lived to tell about it, babette. That to me is the main point.

                                                            Frankly, I've been much more disturbed by some of the bathroom "facilities" (using that word loosely) I've had no choice but to use at restaurants during my travels than I was by some of the creatures, human and otherwise, who patronized the places at the same times I did. :-)

                                                          3. I worked in a resto with a pest problem, and our kitchen and dining room were CLEAN. we had an exterminator come regularly, stored everything in plastic bins rather than boxes, and did everything possible. But the neighboring businesses did not. So every time the exterminator would come the rats and roaches would leave. A couple days later they'd come back. We never found food torn open or anything so I don't know what they were eating, but they always came back no matter how clean we kept the place.

                                                            The exterminator told us that the only way to fix the problem would be to tent the entire block and kill everything. And there's no way every business in that neighborhood would be willing to give up 4 days worth of money. I can only imagine what it's like in a place like NYC.

                                                            1. I would not be happy. I grew up in the country and understand mice coming into our houses, particularly in fall, but we rarely, if ever saw them. The fact the mouse ran in and out several times, into an area occupied by people...and I assume some of them (waitstaff at least) were moving around. That's a mouse that is too comfortable in its surroundings to just be dropping in, in my opinion.

                                                              1. I did a Food Managers Safety Course in Florida about 8 years ago. The instructor told us there wasn't a restaurant or catering establishment in the state without roaches and rodents.

                                                                1. I've seen it twice. Once it was actually two mice fighting in a beloved NYC Deli. The owner had recently been murdered and the place wasn't at its best. I didn't say anything because the restaurant clearly had enough problems and I'm sure they knew. I took a break from it and then eventually started going back.

                                                                  The other occasion was an Indonesian place in the East Village that was closed years ago. Never went back, didn't mention it to the owner since there were other sanitary issues (but I probably should have)

                                                                  1. Not a big deal. I wouldn't even break stride.

                                                                    1. I wouldn't care. My mom and I were at a local bakery a few years ago and had run into an old family friend. We were all catching up when our friend pointed out a mouse scurrying around. My mom asked the owner for a disposable cup, scooped it up, and deposited it outside while we all continued chatting. I think the owner was more aghast at our reaction than at the mouse. I grew up in the country. Mice get in. At least this one had good taste!

                                                                      1. It wouldn't bother me in the least. Jr, does of course have a story for this.

                                                                        Circa 1980-ish Jr. was around 10 years old and out to eat at a fancy restaurant with his parents. For whatever reason Jr. was mad at his mother and decided he wanted to "get her". So when Jr.'s salad was served he took the cherry tomato in his hand and with his salad fork made a careful puncture where the stem was pulled from the tomato. Jr then placed the tomato in his mouth....carefully placed it between his front teeth, stem facing out and began accurately aiming his mouth towards his mother. {{5-4-3-2-1...as the silent countdown went inside Jr's head}} I clinched my teeth/jaw as hard as I could propelling the center of the tomato out of my mouth, launching it's jelly, slimy, seedy, guts through the air.

                                                                        There was a problem with the launch though.....apparently either my aim, or the structural rigidity of the hole I made didn't hold up in a real launch scenario, and instead of hitting the intended target, my mother across the table from me, it hit the lady at the table next to us in the leg.

                                                                        With an exceptionally loud screech the woman at the other table wiped her ankle area and screamed out "A rat just licked me", following which complete mayhem fell upon the other diners in the restaurant. My family being in the business wasn't as phased as the others so we sat there, as I prayed to Baby Jesus nobody had seen my prior activities, which in fact they hadn't.

                                                                        I fessed up years later, probably around my 21st birthday.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                          That is hilarious to read; would not have been hilarious to be the "lick-e".

                                                                          Mouse or rat in a restaurant --eh, it happens.

                                                                        2. For me, the mouse is not the issue, but the manager's response is.

                                                                          I would never return to the restaurant simply because of the manager's laissez-faire attitude about hygiene and cleanliness.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: DukeFan

                                                                            I agree. You don't *have* to eat there - you have options. If the mouse is being hotly pursued by employees trying to get it out of the dining room, the manager's attitude might be acceptable. If it's the floor show, not so much.

                                                                          2. In a large city if there are NO vermin in a restaurant, that often means said restaurant is using copious amounts of chemical deterrents.

                                                                            Either that or their food is SO bad that even the mice and roaches stay away.

                                                                            1. Well at least if the mouse is in the dining room, he is not that mysterious ingredient in the food itself *L*. Probably would not be thrilled, but we have had mice in a well cared for suburban house (definitely was not thrilled) but it happens. Then again how would you feel if the mouse came into the dining room *sniffed* turned up his nose and ran back out?