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NYC rats scramble for fast food

The restaurant wasn't open when passers-by saw a slew of vermin. And now it won't be for a while.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published February 24, 2007


NEW YORK - New Yorkers are used to seeing rats where they catch their trains - not where they buy their burritos.

About a dozen rats were having a grand party Friday in a locked KFC/Taco Bell restaurant, scampering around the floor, playing with each other and sniffing for food as they dashed around tables and children's high chairs.

Onlookers could not keep their eyes away from the jaw-dropping sight - a gang of urban vermin invading a restaurant that had been taking people's chicken and taco orders just a day earlier. Video of the rats was seen around the world, disseminated on TV stations and the Internet.

"They should handcuff them and throw the dirty rats in jail," cabbie Wilson Paul said as he pulled over to gawk.

Word spread after a TV crew discovered the rat infestation Friday morning and filmed it through a window of the Greenwich Village building.

Health inspectors arrived, and the parent company for KFC and Taco Bell, Yum Brands Inc., was again forced into damage-control mode a few months after enduring an E. coli outbreak.

The restaurant was not open when the rats were spotted. The company said construction in the basement on Thursday appeared to have stirred up the rodents.

"This is completely unacceptable and is an absolute violation of our high standards," Yum Brands said in a statement.

The city Department of Health had inspectors at the site on Friday for hours, and by midday had posted a sign that read "CLOSED."

"Today, this establishment had serious unsanitary conditions," said Carol Feracho, a senior health inspector. "There were issues with vermin throughout."

The owner could not be reached for comment.

On the Web

To see the video of the rats in the restaurant, first brace yourself, then go to links.tampabay.com.