Health Officials Investigate Rodent Issue Plaguing Restaurants at Concord’s Sun Valley Mall

Six restaurants at Sun Valley Mall in Concord have been closed since May due to a problem with rodents.

Contra Costa County health officials are calling the problem an "imminent health hazard."

"We found obvious signs of rodent infestation -- there were mouse traps (with) a dead mouse in it at the time we inspected," said Dr. Marilyn C. Underwood, environmental health director at Contra Costa County. "We also saw roaches, live coach roaches."

Underwood was referring to the Tomi Seafood Buffet, the latest restaurant at the mall to shut down due to the rodent issue. Other restaurants that have previously closed include Yoshi, Johnny Rockets, Charleys Philly Steaks, Chicken Connection and Lotus Express. The restaurants, aside from Tomi, have since reopened.

Underwood said because the problem has become so widespread, county health reached out to the mall.

A letter from county health to Sun Valley Mall said the problem has gone beyond individual food facilities and now requires immediate attention of mall ownership.

Sunvalley Shopping Center provided the following statement:

"We have always maintained the highest standards in our common areas, and ask the same of our tenants in the leased spaces. When this issue was first brought to our attention, we immediately enacted a multi-pronged approach to identifying the areas of risk to bring swift resolution to the matter. As part of the process, we also engaged with the Health Department whose involvement and counsel we fully embrace. We will continue to actively manage any issues found to ensure the health and safety of our guests."

Underwood said they cannot link the problems to any specific food contamination, but the investigation was prompted by a customer who said they got sick eating at Tomi.

"It's hard when you have a problem of this sort and I do think that's why we closed them now, and we are not going to have to reopen until we think the problem is solved," Underwood said.

Tomi will be closed until at least next Wednesday, which is when it will have a hearing with the county to see where they are in the clean-up process. Tomi restaurant owners were unavailable for comment Friday.

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