'I'm standing by my mouse claims,' insists woman who says surprise rodent diner appeared during Royal Thai, Glengormley meal
A woman who sparked an online social media frenzy after claiming a mouse appeared while she and her partner were having a meal at a restaurant in Glengormley has insisted she is sticking by her story.
Lynne McDowell visited the Royal Thai restaurant in the centre of the Co Antrim town on Tuesday May 10 at around 10.30pm.
The Belfast woman has been a regular at the eatery for almost 10 years.
Its fish tank and the chicken satay, she said, have been a big draw for her and her children.
However, during her meal last week, Lynne says an unexpected diner - a mouse - joined her and her partner for dinner.
Lindy Tsang the Royal Thai owner's daughter however, vehemently denied the restaurant had a rodent problem instead claiming Lynne's claims were "false" and that a mouse was never "presented to staff on the night". She also said council environmental health staff found no trace of rodent activity during a visit.
Lynne told the Belfast Telegraph: "We had a nice meal, as we usually do.
"I've been before. We don't live in Glengormley, but the Royal Thai is the only place that I can get the chicken satay that I really like.
"Just as we had finished our food a mouse appeared at our table which seemed to come from behind the radiator beside the table.
"We told the staff and one said it shouldn't have happened and was apologetic about it. The server on duty and the waiter all came over to the table and were in a panic looking about.
"They blamed building work for it happening.
"As I'm terrified of mice I asked to just pay the bill and go. There was no quibble with the bill.
Lynne said that her partner paid the bill and even tipped as they didn't want to make a fuss.
However, on her way home she felt differently about it.
She posted on Facebook a picture of a mouse alongside the words "Look who joined us for dinner tonight" along with a joke about her breaking her diet.
It was shared hundreds of times.
Lynne admits that the picture of the mouse was not related to the incident and was from a time when the family had a rodent problem in their house.
She deleted her original post and published a review on Facebook of her experience.
However, despite contradictory claims by the restaurant owner's daughter, Lynne maintains that she and her partner saw a mouse.
"There was absolutely no malice intended in what I posted. I have nothing against the restaurant before this and I don't know the owners," the 51-year-old said.
"I never thought there would be such a response - I have had some nasty comments thrown my way - and if I could do things differently I would not have posted that picture and I probably should have gone to the council's environmental health in the first place.
"The accusations that I said it was all a joke are totally ridiculous.
"But this happened to me and I thought other people should know."
The Royal Thai owner's daughter Lindy Tsang posted a lengthy response on Facebook saying Lynne's claims were false and that she never brought her concerns to the staff on the night.
She wrote about how her and her siblings had resented their parents for working long hours to establish the business before realising it was for their benefit.
"Glengormley is a small town," she said, "and it's not hard for false news to get passed over and over.
"It triggered and snowballed to even the council and tourism board being contacted.
"Thankfully, inspectors proved to us that our premises is in fact very clean and there were no sign of rodents.
"We won't let 20 years of hard work be tarnished through false lies."
Speaking on the BBC Talkback programme on Monday lunchtime, Lindy said the post had hit business by more than 50%, although she said that may have been down to other factors, such as the weather.
She also said council environmental health officers had deemed the premises as clean and that they could find no rodent activity.
She said the family had been comforted by the outpouring of support they had received following the claims.
She said they took the social media posts "very seriously" but that they got suspicious as the claims were "never presented to us". She also said there was some dispute over the bill - something Lynne vehemently denies.
"We have no idea why this happened," Lindy said
"My post on Facebook was shared 6,000 times and it's funny that something that was originally very hurtful to my family ended up benefiting us because we have had an influx of customers since this.
"We are a small family restaurant in Glengormley - they didn't spend time with us. We are not the most sophisticated or classy but the one thing my parents strive to focus on is the quality."
She said her parents had been galvanised to make improvements on the business and that their passion for the business had been reignited.
"I think we my parents are just going to let it go they are really happy with everything - it doesn't matter if someone tries to do something to hurt you, it doesn't mean you have to retaliate," she added.
"They are just going to focus on their business.
"The internet is such a vast place. People before they share things have to ask how reliable information can be."
Lindy has since posted a follow-up on Belfast Telegraph's Facebook page:
A spokeswoman for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, in a statement said: "The council’s environmental health service was made aware of a posting on social media on Friday, May 13 2016.
"The image associated with the posting did not relate to the premises.
"Following notification about the posting, environmental health officers visited the Royal Thai restaurant, Newtownabbey and an investigation is still ongoing.
"It is anticipated that the investigation will conclude later today (Monday).
"The premises currently has a Food Hygiene Rating Scheme score of two [out of five]."
The Belfast Telegraph contacted the Royal Thai for further comment, however, the woman who answered the phone said they did not want to add to the story.
Two of the men have since been removed to China and the third remains in the country while his case is dealt with by the Home Office.