San Diego

After Vermin Infestation, Filippi's Pizza Grotto Eastlake Closes for Good

Ten days after it was forced to close because of a vermin infestation, Filippi's Pizza Grotto in Eastlake closed for good Saturday.

The restaurant hosted a party Saturday night complete with an Elvis impersonator to thank customers for their support during the past five years.

On Sunday morning, a sign on the front door of the business reads, "Filippi's Pizza Grotto Eastlake Permanently Closed" and directed customers to a website to find the nearest location.

On April 19, Filippi's was forced to close after health inspectors found rat droppings in several areas of the restaurant. The previous day, dried rodent droppings were found in the dry storage area, utensil storage area, the back oven, under a stove and inside the conveyor motor housing underneath the dishwashing machine, according to documents provided by county health inspectors.

Rodent nests were found in the bottom panels of two ovens, inspectors said.

“Also observed over 30 droppings and pungent urine smell inside of front oven #2,” the inspectors said in the health department’s report. The document also states fur and droppings were found near the nests.

The company applied for a re-inspection, saying the facility was deep cleaned.

In the follow-up inspection Thursday, health inspectors report finding dried mouse droppings and two fresh rat droppings in the restaurant’s dry storage on the second floor. The inspector also found dried urine on plastic wrapper of cardboard pizza boxes and gnaw marks through the plastic and into the boxes, according to documents provided by county health inspectors.

The restaurant provided access to pest control records dated April 11, the county said.

County inspectors also suggested fixing doors that were not self-closing either by disrepair or under the direction of building management.

The restaurant to was approved to reopen on April 20.

In a statement to NBC 7, Filippi's franchise owner, Robert DePhilippis, said he's been fighting the rodent problem he inherited since taking over the restaurant after his brother's death.

"We have had the 'best of the best' problem-solving pest control companies to aid in this fight, and until the management of this mall joins in ridding this problem from the entire scope of the mall, I am unduly hindered," he said. "Please be confident that my other establishments have no such problem."

In a statement to NBC 7, IRE Development, the management company of The District shopping center where Filippi's is located said none of its tenants has ever had to close because of a failed inspection.

"The tenant’s claim that this is a District-wide concern that’s pervasive throughout The District is 100 percent false," IRE president Michael A. Vogt said in the statement.

DEH Documents obtained by NBC 7 show the restaurant was closed twice last year in December for vermin infestations. Once on Dec. 14 and again two weeks later on Dec. 27.

The restaurant was cited twice this year for vermin, once on Feb. 9 and again on April 12, a week before the restaurant was closed again for vermin infestation.

The health inspector noted in the February report she met with the onsite pest control operator to "discussed treatment schedule and exclusion methods," according to the report.

Lolita's Mexican Food, located next door to Filippi's, has not been cited for vermin, according to DEH records dating back to December 2016.

The DEH characterizes vermin as “active infestation by rodents or vectors that are disease carriers that would likely result in the contamination of food contact surfaces or adulteration of foods and will warrant an immediate closure.”

Vermin is a major violation and, under state law, requires immediate corrective action or closure until compliance is achieved.

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