Dirty Dining: Mice and roaches found inside some Indy restaurants

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Roaches and mice are among the recent discoveries made by health inspectors at Indianapolis restaurants. The FOX59 Dirty Dining team is exposing the pest problems lurking in Marion County kitchens.

Just steps away from the glowing theater lights of Fountain Square, a bright blue building sits on a neighborhood corner and draws in fans of Greek food. Santorini Greek Kitchen, 1417 Prospect Street, is known of its gyros and falafel, but health inspectors recently shut it down due to multiple critical violations.  Records from the Marion County Health Department show an inspector found evidence of pests.

FOX59 went straight to management to get answers about the problematic conditions.

On March 23, the inspector noted “live roaches” found in the ventilation above the cook line and outside the dishwasher. Plus, the report states there were dead roaches in the back storage area, in the bar, between water heaters and in plastic light covers. Rat droppings were also found in the basement.

“There was a space outside that we discovered was an opening for anything that wanted to come in and it had,” said restaurant co-owner Jeanette Sawi.

Plus, management was required to throw away 20 pounds of gyro meat because the inspector said it was stored at the wrong temperature.

“They had not put it away yet from lunch,” Sawi said. “So, it was sitting there. It needed to be put away.”

The health department temporarily shut down Santorini Greek Kitchen for a day until they addressed all 12 critical violations. The restaurant was fined $1000.

“It was a good learning experience,” Sawi said. “I hate, hate, hate that it happened.”

Sawi said they have been working hard to fix the problems and showed us around to see the improvements. She says they put screening over an outside area that is likely the area the pests were coming in through.

Efforts to keep roaches and mice out are now in full effect, according to Sawi. She said additional traps are now set around the restaurant. She tells FOX 59 they have put up signs reminding employees what they need to do on a daily and weekly basis to protect customers’ health.

“I couldn’t work in a place that wasn’t legitimate,” Sawi said. “It won’t happen again.”

After two rechecks, inspectors say all the violations were resolved.

Next, we head to Indy’s south side to Wheels of Wonder, located at 175 Southern Plaza Drive.  Families who visit the skating rink usually lace up their skates, hit the rink and grab a bite.

But, according to health department records, discoveries made among the skates earlier this year put the brakes on a positive report.

The inspector wrote the “floor is soiled with remains of dead mice.” Specifically, the report lists a mouse head was found behind the skate rental area, a dead mouse found inside a bait box, and mouse droppings found under the register at the concession stand.

The owner, who identified himself as Brian Jones, did not want to do an on-camera interview but did send FOX 59 this statement saying in part:

“I respectfully disagree [with] the report and have evidence to contradict the inspector's inaccurate report, I have appealed the report. Our vastly inferior competition has used their acquaintance at the health department as a weapon against us.”

Jones also showed FOX 59 empty mouse traps during our visit to the facility.

Inspectors report having a different experience. On March 18, Wheels of Wonder was fined $300 for 8 critical violations. A recheck on March 25 led to a $500 fine. Despite what Jones told us, a health department spokesperson says Jones has yet to request an administrative hearing or contest the fines. The fines remain unpaid.

On April 28, the health department got another complaint about mouse droppings. An inspector went back to Wheels of Wonder and confirmed that complaint. Read the full report here. 

Wheels of Wonder has yet to be cleared by the Marion County Health Department.

To learn which restaurant received the latest Dine 59 award, click here.