A special Inside Edition investigation has found disease-carrying vermin running around some of Philadelphia's well-known restaurants, including rodents at one of the most popular food chains in the nation: Shake Shack.
As night fell across the City of Brotherly Love, Inside Edition's “Rat Patrol” had no problem finding rats leaping out of dumpsters and scurrying down alleyways. But we wondered where else rodents might be lurking.
By simply shining our flashlights in restaurant windows after dark we found rodents searching for leftovers inside restaurant after restaurant.
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Jim's Steaks on South Street is a hot spot for tourists and residents alike and famous for its award winning cheesesteaks, but at night Inside Edition found it's also a popular hangout for cheese-loving rodents.
Over three nights, our cameras caught critters climbing behind the kitchen counter. One was even filmed carrying a piece of bread.
One morning at 3 a.m., as investigative producer Charlie McLravy was filming the rodents, the president of Jim's Steaks, Ken Silver, showed up.
McLravy asked him if he was aware he had a rodent problem, which the president of the company denied.
“I don’t have a giant rodent problem,” said Silver.
‘Really? Cause I just saw one running around right inside there,” McLravy said.
“A mouse,” Silver insisted. “You saw a mouse.”
McLravy told him there were at least three rodents in the place.
“Oh my gosh, you saw three mice in a restaurant in Philadelphia,” he said.
When the “Rat Patrol” returned a few days later the restaurant had put up a sign blocking their kitchen windows, apparently so our cameras couldn’t see behind the counter anymore.
Jim's Steaks later sent a statement saying: “Inside Edition's investigative team has provided valuable information, prompting us to evaluate and augment our health and safety efforts."
Less than a block away from Jim’s Steaks is the Famous 4th Street Delicatessen, which has been in business since 1923 and is known for it’s mouthwatering sandwiches.
On two nights the Rat Patrol watched rodents searching for leftovers.
“We've seen at least three running around inside here,” McLravy claimed.
Inside Edition’s Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero tried to show video of the rodents to a manager. The owner declined to comment and also put up shades to block the view from outside.
The Rat Patrol even found them inside Shake Shack, one of the most popular fast food chains in the nation.
Night after night the team saw them zip across the restaurant floor at their City Center location downtown.
“They're scurrying all over the place. They're having a little mouse party,” Guerrero said.
Bruce Colvin, a world-renowned expert on rodents, was also on the patrol.
“There's no doubt there's a population here which means they're breeding in the facility,” he said. “What bothers me about them going in and out of the kitchen freely is that they can be contaminating food preparation areas. Not a good thing.”
When the Rat Patrol tried to show video of the rodents to a manager, he said: “No comment.”
In a statement, Tom Hunton, the Philadelphia Area Director for Shake Shack, said: “We’ve held ourselves to the highest standards from day one. The incident in Philadelphia was unacceptable to us, period. We sincerely apologize to our fans and want to assure them that the matter was immediately handled.”
The venerable Di Bruno Brothers is a cheese lover’s paradise in Philly's historic Italian market.
But Inside Edition found the legendary gourmet food store is also home to a critter who wasn’t camera shy.
When Guerrero showed our video to a manager he was surprised.
“Oh boy!” he said, reacting to the video.
“Yeah, that's behind your counter. Is that something that worries you?” asked Guerrero.
“Certainly. Obviously we have a pest patrol guy coming in constantly,” the manager said.
Di Bruno's owner later told us they've been in business for 78 years and have never failed an inspection report.
And the rodents that call the historic Reading Terminal Market home are quite the acrobats.
On multiple nights we watched them climb up and down the steps into the kitchen of the famed Pearl's Oyster Bar. One rodent even jumped over traps that were left out to catch them at night.
Management for the market gave us a statement on behalf of the market and Pearl's Oyster Bar. It said they have a pest control company that "treats the market several times a week" and that Pearl's passed its last inspection.
They also say "they will continue to take all necessary steps to protect the health of... the millions of people that visit each year."
So restaurants beware, the Rat Patrol may be looking through your windows next.