'It's disgusting': Mom says mouse uninvited guest at Edmonton restaurant

An Edmonton mother says she and her family saw a mouse next to food on a table at a restaurant on Gateway Boulevard.

But a spokesperson for Buffet Royale Carvery disputes her claim, saying Alberta Health Services conducted an inspection on the same day the woman complained.

Michelle Tetreault said the uninvited rodent was spotted when she, her husband and their three children went for dinner last Wednesday night.

"My daughter just turned 16 and we figured we'd go celebrate," said Tetreault. "[We] had some dinner which was not too bad tasting and they headed over to the ice cream stand and spotted a little mouse."  

Tetreault says they quickly lost their appetites.

"It's disgusting, mice should not be by food," said Tetreault. "We all threw down our forks and I went to the manager to go complain and sent my kids to go get my husband for his phone to take some pictures." 

Tetreault has since shared those photos on social media but Buffet Royale district manager Conrad Werenka has his doubts about her claim.

"We dispute her claims in the fact that we do run a very [well-run] establishment and we are following every procedure that Alberta Health requires us to do," said Werenka. He said an inspector visited the restaurant hours before Tetreault filed her complaint.

"The health inspector was actually at our establishment doing a routine inspection yesterday [Wednesday] and found that everything was satisfactory and up to par."

Werenka said an inspector returned Thursday to follow up on the complaint and the only recommendation was to seal up a small gap in the back door.

He also told CBC that a mouse was caught outside at the back of the restaurant but the inspector and the exterminators they hired found no evidence of mice inside the establishment.

Alberta Health Services spokesperson Kerry Williamson confirmed that inspections were carried out on Wednesday and Thursday, one before the complaint and one after.

He said neither found signs of pest infestations but the restaurant was asked to make a few changes.

Williamson added that it's still possible Tetreault saw a mouse.

Werenka confirmed two of the three photos appear to be taken in the restaurant but he couldn't say the same about the close-up shot of the mouse. 

"I don't know if it's a real mouse, a fake mouse," said Werenka, who adds that he was unable to match the photo to the interior of the restaurant.

He believes there might be another element to the complaint.

"Unfortunately these people that came to eat were having issues before the alleged mouse sighting," he said.

"They were looking for a discount and to use more than one coupon so there was an issue with these customers before the mouse sighting, which is very disheartening."

Tetreault and her husband, Michael Meyer, deny there was a dispute over coupons and say the mouse was real.

"I'm just surprised that they're trying to deny it with all the photo evidence," said Meyer.

Werenka pointed out that the chain of restaurants has been in business for 17 years and has an exemplary record, something he hopes people will take into account. 

"We just ask that the customers get hard facts, look at the Alberta Health report — call the health inspector, ask them," said Werenka. 

"If any customers are concerned, we don't mind giving them a tour of our establishment, we don't mind walking them through our kitchen at any location. We just have nothing to hide, we're an open book."

An online check of the location's inspection history dating back to November 2014 shows no critical violations.

Tetreault confirms she was also told by AHS that the inspection turned up no signs of pests.

"Obviously that's not the case," said Tetreault. "Maybe someone else isn't doing their job proper." 

She thinks the restaurant should have been shut down immediately until officials declared it free of rodents.

"We're hoping it's not a deer mouse and we don't catch the hantavirus, I guess only time will tell," said Tetreault. "I have kids, so yeah, it's scary."

Dr. Chris Sikora, the medical officer of health for Edmonton, told CBC News that pests and vermin can carry disease and it's something AHS takes seriously but the chances of contracting hantavirus are slim.

"The risk of hantavirus from a restaurant facility is extraordinary low," said Sikora, adding that regular inspections should put Albertans at ease. 

"We work to such close extent with our restaurants that if a restaurant is open … it should be considered safe."

Still, he encourages anyone with concerns to contact AHS which will follow up.