Mice Problem Shuts Down South Side Works Restaurant

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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South Side Works

  • Daniel

    So now will fried rat be on the menu? I personally would never eat at a restaurant that had been closed by the health department. Yuck! I would rather eat road kill than eat here. And I have NO desire to eat road kill.

  • Terry Boots

    I’m shocked–SHOCKED–to hear that a big fancy restaurant has a rodent issue. Probably more interested in pushing appetizers and expensive drinks than in keeping the place clean.

  • Quietmann

    Once I hear that a restaurant has had a mouse problem, I won’t eat there…..period. I would always wonder whether or not the mice have returned, or if something is being covered up.

  • Mary

    I have a Meetup group that was going to be coming to Tusca for dinner in June. Several of us had also purchased a Living Social coupon for it. Living Social has refunded my money, and I WILL NOT be taking my group there in June. Blaming construction on Water Street does not fly!

    Baby Boomers group

  • Richard

    I thought maybe the problem was denial of service to the mice. I mean, Pixie and Dixie have to dine somewhere right? Now for the really fun stuff..“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 …” Ok, it’s a pain to count pennies and it’s easy to lose count but mouse scat? You know how small they are, who sat there and counted 1, 2, 3, etc. all the way up to 580? How do we know they didn’t lose count and there were really only 565???

  • urban turner

    Just Absurd!

  • Pilo

    Ratatouille off the menu?

  • Dave

    “The management elected to close down the restaurant ”
    Umm, isn’t that a red CLOSED sign from the Health Dept? And then the lawyer goes on to blame construction workers…man up already! I’ve never been there, and now certainly NEVER will!

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