PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Allegheny County Health Department was forced to shut one popular local restaurant down and issue a consumer alert for a second one after both were overrun by mice.

It’s shocking news since Tusca and Claddagh Irish Pub are both upscale restaurants at the South Side Works.

The consumer alert has now been lifted at the Claddagh Irish Pub. The health department says everything’s okay there, but another restaurant just around the corner has been shutdown. Both of these places were overrun by mice.

At nearby Tusca, the mouse problem was so bad, the county forced it to close. KDKA’s Paul Martino spoke exclusively with Maxwell Hand, the health department inspector.

“We saw a large amount of droppings,” Hand said. “We saw some dead mice underneath the couches.”

They were working overnight at Tusca to clean up the place and get it reopened, although the restaurant’s owner downplayed the problem, claiming he voluntarily closed the restaurant and was surprised to learn what KDKA-TV saw in his inspection report that cited an imminent hazard.

Paul Martino: “Five-hundred-eighty droppings on floor and framing, two dead mice in the lower level kitchen, three dead mice on traps in upper level cushions …”

Richard Davis (Owner): “No, that’s the first I’ve seen it.”

Back at Claddagh, they’ve been given a clean bill of health. It’s safe for the public to eat and dine there.

They are blaming some nearby construction for the mouse infestation. But Steve Steingart, the head of the health department’s food safety program, tells KDKA’s Paul Martino construction or not, it’s the restaurant’s responsibility to keep rodents away.

“It’s their responsibility to keep mice out of an area,” Steingart said. “It’s their responsibility to keep control of their facility so that vermin do not enter.”

For that reason, Tusca remains closed.

Late Wednesday, Tusca was trying to get reopened after cleaning up the place all night long and inviting the health department back for another inspection. Hopefully, this will put an end to the mouse problems at the South Side Works.

Donald R. Calaiaro, an attorney for Tusca, released a statement on behalf of the restaurant.

“Unfortunately, we have experienced a problem caused by several contractors not performing their jobs. We have remedied the problem. A new exterminator has been called in and the problem is being corrected.

“We expect that the Allegheny County Health Department will re-inspect the premises and we will be able to reopen within 24 hours. The management elected to close down the restaurant rather than operate with a ‘WARNING’ (yellow sticker) while the problem was not resolved. We have met with the landlord who is concerned about the health issue. We have advised them that the problem is being corrected.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused our loyal customers.”

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