Note: Due to the Dec. 17 snowstorm, the public hearing for Sabatino's has been canceled and will be rescheduled by health officials in the near future.
Owners of Sabatino's Italian Restaurant will have to explain to Waltham health officials this week why mice feces were not only found near open takeout containers and food ingredients, but why the droppings were not properly cleaned for weeks.
Health inspectors said that a Nov. 18 examination of the Main Street restaurant found mouse feces on Sabatino's basement shelves, which also held open takeout boxes and uncovered flour. They also found droppings on the floor, alongside aprons used by restaurant employees.
When inspectors visited Sabatino's again on Nov. 22, restaurant owners had cleaned the floor but feces were still on the shelves, officials said. Inspectors also found more mouse droppings, as well as bugs, in the kitchen near the dishwashing sinks. They also saw mouse feces on the basement stairs.
Another inspection on Nov. 25 racked up the restaurant seven more unsatisfactory items from health officials. The restaurant was finally deemed clean and passable on a Dec. 3 visit, said Michelle Feeley, Waltham's chief inspector.
"There was no improvement upon inspection, so they have to come in front of the board to explain what was going on in their establishment," Feeley said over the phone Monday.
The hearing will take place before Waltham's health board Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. in the Government Center building on School Street. Health officials could vote to close the restaurant for cleaning, order them to hire a health consultant, or require the restaurant to change their cleaning plan.
A Sabatino's employee who answered the phone Monday afternoon said that his boss declined to comment.
Feeley said that although finding mouse droppings is relatively common, "this place just happens to have a problem with them."
"They obviously have a bad mouse problem that really needs to be addressed," Feeley said, noting that the restaurant provided proof that they called a pest control company in late November. "The building is old and there are holes that need to be patched properly. They just need some guidance."
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org