Rat Infestation Closes a Pet Store & Restaurant
Satisfied that a Decatur-area pet store had done what was necessary to eliminate a rat infestation, a DeKalb County judge on Wednesday said the store can reopen.
Now, the owner of Melton’s App & Tap next door to the Pet Supermarket in the Medlock Plaza shopping center must decide whether to take what he said would be “the gamble of my life” – spending the money to repair and reopen his restaurant.
Aaron Melton voluntarily closed his eatery, at 2500 N. Decatur Road, on Nov. 6 after a customer spotted a rat there.
“Early next week, I will basically have to make my decision as to whether we will move forward,” Melton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a phone interview.
“I have to talk to a lot of people – my family, my staff, get a feel for what our patrons and supporters are feeling, and look at all the finances – and take all that into consideration, and make this decision,” he said.
Melton said it would be at least four weeks before he can reopen. He has estimated the entire episode would cost him more than $100,000.
Earlier Wednesday, DeKalb Superior Court Judge Daniel Coursey Jr. heard testimony from witnesses for Pet Supermarket that the store had done all the necessary repairs – sealing exit and entry points and a common wall – to resolve the rat problem and keep rodents out of Melton’s.
Channel 2 Action News, which covered the hearing, reported that one witness said between 300 and 500 rats had been trapped in the store a 30-day period earlier this year.
The judge instructed the store not to throw away loose pet food in the trash receptacles outside.
Efforts were being made Wednesday evening to contact an attorney for Pet Supermarket for comment.
In a prior interview, Melton said he had never had a rodent problem in the 17 years his restaurant had been open until July, when his employees discovered a hot dog bag that had been broken into. Signs of a rodent invasion continued, despite efforts by Melton’s to secure its food and space against contamination.
Eventually, the shopping center owner brought in a pest specialist who traced the problem to openings where rodents were entering the building, and to the Pet Supermarket next door, where rats had gotten into pet food, Melton said.
Things got so bad, Melton hired a lawyer, went to court and got a judge’s injunction shutting Pet Supermarket down on Oct. 20. The court ordered the store to remain closed until it eradicated the rat problem.
“I have a big gamble, a big decision to make,” Melton said Wednesday. “After we’ve spent all our money reinvesting in the restaurant, if something like this happens again, we’ll never recover from it.”
Source = atlantajournalconstitution.com
General Manager - Staff Entomologist