Saks Restaurant and Bar at Marina Mirage owners were forced to spend more than $55,000 on cleaning and structural changes after Gold Coast City Council food safety officers busted them for failing several inspections last year.
Council solicitor Nick Hatcher yesterday told the Southport Magistrates Court 15 cockroaches had been found under the refrigerated pizza unit, near the pizza oven, at the washing up sink and in the dry storage area.
He said the restaurant had been given a clean bill of health in April this year but a single dead cockroach was found during a surprise inspection last week.
Saks pleaded guilty through lawyer Michael McMillan to one count of failing to comply with a requirement imposed by the Food Standards Code.
Mr McMillan said his clients took over the business a year ago but were “just accountants” who had little experience in the hospitality industry and were “not up to speed”.
The council asked for fines up to $25,000 while Mr McMillan said a lesser fine of up to $15,000 was more fitting as the business had no previous breaches and had already suffered adverse publicity this week.
“They take a lot of pride in what they do and they are very upset about how this negative publicity will affect them,” he said.
He said the owners wanted to reassure customers that the restaurant was now fully compliant.
“Saks is open for business and people can be assured that all the food stuff they eat there are safe and staff are doing all they can to make customers’ happy,” he said.
But Magistrate Ron Kilner expressed disgust at the owners slow compliance with council orders. “Members of the public were put at risk of salmonella poisoning … due to the poor hygiene at the restaurant,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is, they didn’t shut the doors — they kept the restaurant open for business, presumably making money while not complying.