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Roaches And Rats: Midlands, South Carolina Restaurants Battling Pests

Tokyo Buffett, Tacos Locos and more …

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The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Services (SCDHEC) regularly conducts inspections of eating establishments throughout the Palmetto State. Agency inspectors score restaurants on their use of proper health protocols – and on the facility’s overall cleanliness – findings reflected in the form of letter grades posted to the entrances of each establishment.

Here are some of the Midlands region kitchens shown to struggle with rats, roaches or other pests in recent inspections and what steps they’ve taken to remove them.



An April 2024 inspection of the Tokyo Buffet on 109 Woodland Hills Road found “roaches throughout facility” including “in light fixtures” – and even in a container of rice.

(Click to View)

Roach found in rice at Tokyo Buffet (SCDHEC)

Roaches weren’t the only back-of-house problem, either. According to the report, much of the kitchen equipment is “held up by bricks and cinder blocks that are porous and not easily cleanable” while the dishwasher had no mechanism installed to ensure it only used water hot enough to sanitize.

Staff were also observed using the same set of gloves for multiple kitchen tasks – risking cross contamination – and did not track when individual items were added to the buffet line, making it impossible to ensure food wasn’t on the line too long to be safe.

SCDHEC inspectors returned five days later and found the vast majority of the aforementioned issues corrected. No longer were roaches roaming throughout the building (or in the rice), and staff were found to be following all food safety protocols.



The Quick Stop convenience store on 9401 Wilson Boulevard in Columbia was found to have “rodent activity throughout (the) facility” in an inspection report released earlier this month. While the store did have pest treatment chemicals on premises, inspectors noted they were consumer grade and “not approved for food service facilities.”

The gas station was further found to have food stored in inadequately cold refrigerators. Inspectors specifically cited 44-degree chicken wings and 45-degree sausages in their report. It was also noted the facility lacked a thermometer to assess wether food had been cooked to the proper temperature.


Reported rodent droppings at Quick Stop #2 (SCDHEC)

The gas station’s hand sink had been converted to storage, and wasn’t able to output water during the inspection, and “heavy growth” and food debris were found “in out of service equipment throughout.”

Inspectors returned to the gas station for a follow-up inspection the next day, only to be greeted with many of the same issues, the chicken wings and sausages were still too warm, the thermometer was still lacking, and the signs of rodent activity were still present.

The report noted that the station has recently changed owners. FITSNews reached out to the new operators, who insist they are in the process of remedying the issues.

SCDHEC will perform an additional inspection later this month.



Tacos Locos & Grill

Tacos Locos & Grill #2, located on 1735 Decker Boulevard, has repeatedly been deemed to be out of SCDHEC pest control compliance. A February 2023 report found “small flying insects residing in dish ware stored in the bar.” Managers were unable to provide inspectors with proof of a recent pest control visit.

A more recent SCDHEC inspection observed “live roaches throughout (the) kitchen” – prompting the agency to issue an order instructing the restaurant to close a gap at the bottom of the door which potentially allowed insects access to the facility. The same report also found an opened container of salt on the kitchen floor – and standing water at the bottom of the kitchen’s prep cooler.


Roaches at Tacos Locos & Grill
Roaches found at Tacos Locos & Grill #2 (SCDHEC)

During a follow-up inspection nine days later, the presence of insects was not noted, but the gap under the door had not yet been repaired. SCDHEC inspectors gave the restaurant an “A” grade, but noted the need for a follow-up inspection.



A February 2024 inspection of Catherine’s Kitchen – which is located inside of the Richland County administrative building on Hampton Street – revealed a number of pest issues including “droppings throughout (the) dry storage room” as well as dead rodents found on a “glue trap beneath (a) water heater.”


Rats at Catherine’s Kitchen (SCDHEC)

Inspectors returned in early March and “observed droppings throughout dry storage area.” During a follow-up visit ten days later, more droppings were found. By the end of the month, however, the kitchen’s operators seem to have sorted out the problem – receiving a perfect score on their March 27, 2024 inspection.

Look for additional reports from our media outlet on these inspections in the future. Also if anyone in our audience has information/ evidence regarding allegations of unsanitary conditions at eating establishments anywhere in the Palmetto State, feel free to reach out via our tip line.



(Via: Travis Bell)

Dylan Nolan is the director of special projects at FITSNews. He graduated from the Darla Moore school of business in 2021 with an accounting degree. Got a tip or story idea for Dylan? Email him here. You can also engage him socially @DNolan2000.



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