Shocking video of rats running amok in Caffe Nero Belfast coffee shop
A sign in the shop window today says it is 'closed for essential maintenance'
Shocking footage, seen exclusively by the Belfast Telegraph, shows rats rummaging around in the early hours of the morning in a Belfast branch of a well-known coffee shop.
Two rodents can be seen behind the counter of the Caffe Nero shop located in the city centre at Donegall Square West.
The footage was filmed late at night by a couple who spotted the pests while returning from a night out.
Caffe Nero is a European coffee house brand with more than 600 stores globally.
The footage was filmed on Tuesday, July 7 at around 1.30am by a couple who were walking through the city trying to get a taxi home after having been out for dinner and drinks. As they passed the store they spotted something moving out of the corner of their eye.
As the footage was taken in the early hours of the morning, staff are likely to have been unaware of rats on the premises.
The couple said they were stunned at what they saw and began filming as they feared no one would believe them.
One of the pair, a 24-year-old man from Belfast who did not wish to be named, claimed he saw the rats scuttle across the floor before climbing on the counter.
"It was around 1.30am-2am. We couldn't get a taxi so we decided to walk through town to get to a taxi depot," he said.
"It was out of the corner of my eye I noticed one rat on the floor and then eventually another one, and I watched them climb up the counter top and in behind the coffee machine.
"Then I started recording it.
"I couldn't believe it in such a well-known brand. I was quite shocked and stunned. That's why I started recording it, because I didn't think anyone would believe it."
In response a spokeswoman for Caffe Nero said it will be investigating straight away.
"This incident has only just been brought to our attention.
"We are taking it extremely seriously and will be conducting a thorough investigation as a matter of urgency," she said in a statement.
The video zooms in to the counter of the coffee shop where the rats are visibly moving behind the counter.
It then pans out to show the shop sign.
On Wednesday morning a sign was up on the store saying that it was "closed for essential maintenance".
Belfast City Council have sent environmental health officers out to "ensure the premises are closed and offer advice as to how the problems should best be tackled".
A spokesman said: "“Food safety and hygiene is a top priority for the council and we regularly carry out inspections of food premises. Following reports this morning of a specific problem with rats at Caffe Nero environmental health officers have been out to ensure the premises are closed and offer advice as to how the problem should best be tackled.
"The Council were also investigating the integrity of the external drainage infrastructure in the area and were liaising with the management of the Scottish Provident Building who carried out immediate maintenance to the drainage.
"There were no reports of any rodent activity in any of the food businesses.
“We understand that the video highlighted by the media was taken some weeks ago; instances of this nature are best reported to the council immediately in order for us take action in a timely manner.”
The Caffe Nero franchise was founded in 1997 and today has stores across seven territories including UK, the Republic, Cyprus, UAE, USA, Poland and Turkey.
The footage comes just one month after a case was brought against the Belfast bar and restaurant formerly known as Alley Cat, which was fined a total of £950 after a dead rat was found there in 2014.
Alley Cat is now being run by a new food business operator and has recently been inspected.
Rat infestations are a growing problem across Northern Ireland. Recently a man from Carrickfergus said his home was left a "worthless rat house" after rodents invaded his home, which was built incorrectly on top of a sewer.
A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said it provides help and advice to domestic homeowners and commercial business owners to get rid of a number of pests.