A rat was seen drinking water or syrup from beneath a soft drink fountain at CiCi’s Pizza in Killeen last weekend; however, the rodent was likely an “isolated incident,” a health official said.
George Highsmith, the food sanitation supervisor with the Bell County Public Health District who investigated the incident at CiCi’s, typically gets three or four calls per summer of a rat inside a Killeen restaurant.
He said the rat found at CiCi’s was the first “real rat” complaint validated this summer.
Rodents more commonly enter structures in the wintertime, but will enter buildings during dry spells in the summer, when food or water becomes scarce, Highsmith said.
Photos of the CiCi’s rat popped up on social media last weekend, about the same time, Highsmith said, two complaints came in to his office.
When Highsmith investigated the complaints, the rat had already been caught in a trap and killed.
Local CiCi’s management declined to speak about the rat, but the corporate office sent the Herald a statement.
“At CiCi’s, quality and cleanliness are our top priorities. When we learned there may be a problem at the Killeen location, CiCi’s management took immediate action to investigate and resolve any potential issues,” Geoff Goodman, vice president of National Brand Excellence at CiCi’s Pizza, said in the statement.
“We voluntarily closed the restaurant and conducted a thorough evaluation of our site, and requested an inspection by the health department before reopening. They did not have any health or safety concerns and we received a positive report.
“We are currently open for business.”
A call to the local CiCi’s franchise owner was not returned.
Highsmith said he found no evidence of more rats at the restaurant.
“One incident, one rat,” he said, adding that CiCi’s does hire routine pest control services.
For consumers who see rats in public places, “try not to panic,” Highsmith said, adding people should always alert management right away.
He also encourages residents to call the health district at 254-771-2106.
During non-business hours or weekends, call and leave a message at 254-773-4457.