It has emerged this week that the Kentish Town branch of Chicken Shop, Soho House Group’s rotisserie chicken concept, was forced to close last summer in response to major concerns over health and safety violations described by council inspectors as posing an “imminent risk to health.”
The Evening Standard and Ham & High reports that during an inspection last July, inspectors found evidence of a widespread rodent infestation, including mice droppings in the kitchen and on shelves stacked with takeaway boxes, as well as on food preparation equipment like chopping boards.
Further, the report noted that there was “urgent improvement necessary” to food handling practices to ensure standards of hygiene were met, and that the management of food safety practices — including education of staff and maintenance of systems and checks to ensure food served is safe to eat — required “major improvement”.
Following the resultant zero-star hygiene rating, the Chicken Shop operators agreed to a voluntary closure period to address the issues. A spokesperson for the company is quoted by the Evening Standard as saying: “For two days last summer there were issues noted in the basement and we voluntarily closed. Inspectors returned and were satisfied that everything had been addressed, and we reopened that week.”
Chicken Shop is not the only high-profile London venue to fall behind in the food safety stakes: iconic Indian restaurant, Gaylord, was forced to close for a period last year due to “a serious infestation of cockroaches and poor maintenance of routine cleaning, resulting in a significant risk of food contamination”.
The Food Standards agency is the regulatory body responsible for monitoring food safety in business nationwide; its online database is searchable, and all ratings are in the public record. While a zero-star rating doesn’t necessarily mean forced closure, it does mean the operator in question is on notice to immediately and significantly increase standards, and will be under increased scrutiny moving forward.