THE BOSS of a city restaurant branded ‘utterly disgusting' after an unannounced inspection revealed it had widespread mouse problems has been hit with a fine.
Former Star of Asia owner Amir Begh, 38, was ordered to pay £1,600 at Portsmouth Crown Court yesterday after admitting eight hygiene criminal charges last month.
Portsmouth City Council first inspected the Marketway venue in September last year and unearthed a mouse infestation – which had led to ‘fresh’ droppings in the kitchen, bar and a warming cabinet for food.
Also found were flakes of ceiling paint on kitchen worktops, food peelings dumped in the takeaway’s yard, a vent packed with grease and a poor record of staff hygiene training.
The court yesterday heard Begh, of Southsea – who took over the restaurant just a week before the inspection – voluntarily shut up shop after its unsavoury findings.
However, after vowing to stage a deep clean he was met with a staff walkout – and even when he invited inspectors back in January – it was still a mess.
Mitigating, Charles Gabb told the court Begh, a chef, had been ‘taken for a fool’ after buying the restaurant from a family friend for £15,000 – with £8,000 of borrowed cash and £7,000 put on his credit card.
On the results of inspections at the site, Mr Gabb said: ‘He should’ve shut up shop, but his mistake was trying to muddle his way through.’
He added: ‘He regrets this, apologises and realises he was way out of his depth.’
Sentencing, judge William Ashworth criticised Begh for taking on the restaurant with ‘no previous management experience’ and posing a risk of ‘high adversity’ to its customers.
‘The condition of the premises was utterly disgusting and, as a chef, you would have positively been aware this was in no way a place where food could have been safely prepared,’ he said.
He added: ‘You were taken advantage of and were wholly under-equipped to run a kitchen.’
The Star of Asia is now in different hands and Begh works as a chef at Paanchi in Fratton Road.