After having reason to believe the source of a five-month cockroach problem at Café del Soul extends beyond their business, the organic food restaurant called the health department on itself with the hopes of seeing some action.
“We’re trying to put our voice out there to make sure the problem is solved,” said restaurant manager Sandro De Oliveira. “Right now we feel like we’re a voice in the middle of the ocean, screaming, and nobody comes to help.”
They're being upfront with customers and posted notices around the store and on their website about the infestation, which De Oliveira said affects other businesses in the shopping plaza.
"We are working with outside contractors and the building owner to eradicate the problem and will continue to do so, but because of the size of the problem a simple solution is not easy to find," an excerpt from the notice says.
De Oliveira said Café del Soul’s attempts to reach out to plaza owner Charlie Elquare have been unsuccessful in addressing the problem, but Elquare said he became aware of the extent of the roaches only recently and is doing everything he can to get the situation under control.
“I do not want to have any roaches in this plaza,” he said on Tuesday.
Where are they coming from?
Café del Soul noticed a few of the bugs, identified as German cockroaches, back in May and hired the exterminators Terminix to get rid of them. But the problem has gotten worse, and recent remodeling at a neighboring business revealed cockroach nests in an adjacent wall, De Oliveira said.
“It’s a major problem,” he said. “We have a problem in the plaza.”
But it seems unclear exactly where they’re coming from. Elquare said he’s still collecting information but didn’t hear anything about nests in the walls, and that the cockroaches seem to be contained to Café del Soul, the Chinese restaurant May Lee, and Starbucks.
“May Lee’s and Starbucks only told us they had them recently,” Elquare said.
About a week ago he did a walk-through inspection of the plaza with the exterminator company he hired, Applied Pest Management. They found one roach at May Lee’s, he said, but at Café del Soul they “went into the kitchen and uncovered one area and saw a bunch scurry away,” Elquare said.
In reviewing health records, he said neither May Lee nor Starbucks reported any prior cases, and points to Café del Soul, which has incidents going back to May, as the culprit. He expects the bugs are coming from the restaurant’s food delivery boxes.
“Its easy for them to be in those boxes and to hide out, and then they’re in the space,” Elquare said.
But back when they first discovered the bugs, Café del Soul reviewed all their vendors to make sure the outside companies were following health codes and doing everything properly, De Oliveira said.
They’ve also been keeping their space as clean as possible, but still notice roaches here and there, crawling out of vents and from under doorways, and have caught some overnight in the traps they’ve put out.
“I’m really frustrated right now,” De Oliveira said. “I hope people can see what we’re doing. We’re trying to tell the truth. We don’t have anything to hide. We just want to be an honest business and do the right thing.”
Elquare said he’s in the process of speaking with Marin County Environmental Health Services and determining the next course of action.
“This information is still coming in and I need to evaluate all the records,” he said.
But the one thing remains clear.
“Our main concern,” he said, “is to deal with the roaches and make sure they don’t come back.”
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