A popular Indian restaurant has been slapped with a $16,000 fine after its kitchen was found to be infested with cockroaches and two diners fell ill.
Punjabi Palace, on Melbourne Street in South Brisbane, was forced to shut its doors in June last year after Brisbane City Council found the live and dead insects as well as accumulated dirt on the stove.
The Brisbane Magistrates Court heard two diners, from Western Australia, also complained of stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea after eating at the restaurant, The Courier-Mail reported.
Punjabi Palace’s food licence was suspended on June 15, 2018, amid concerns their meals were posing a health risk to customers.
Magistrate Anne Thacker said: ‘Clearly the premises had reached a point where they were very dirty. The problems had been there for a considerable amount of time.’
Council prosecutor Roman Micairan said the restaurant was not well-maintained and lacked basic cleanliness.
He said food and meat were inadequately stored on top of each other, with juices dripping, while curry and rice was seen splashed around the walls of the kitchen.
‘Unsuspecting members of the public were exposed to a high risk of eating contaminated food and becoming very sick, or even worse,’ Mr Micairan said.
Restaurant owner Baljit Singh pleaded guilty to seven charges each of failing to comply with food business standards and contravening food business licence conditions.
Punjabi Palace had no previous suspensions.
Mr Singh, who has owned Punjabi Palace for 18 years, re-opened the restaurant 24 hours after its closure.
He previously hired a manager to oversee the restaurant while struggling with depression. The manager was sacked and Mr Singh immediately cleaned the restaurant before it was re-opened.
Magistrate Sacker commended Mr Singh’s ‘very impressive work’ in bringing the restaurant back to a standard but said he should have noticed the restaurant slipping into problems while being run by the now removed manager.
‘I accept Punjabi Palace is one of the most popular and successful Indian restaurants in Brisbane. That’s no basis to not comply with the law,’ she said.
Mr Singh lost $8,000 during the one-day closure.
He is now ensuring the venue has regular pest control and installed a CCTV camera in the kitchen.
Mr Singh was handed a $16,000 fine, with no conviction recorded. He was also ordered to pay the council $355.