Photo by Dermot Connolly
Fattoush restaurant at 10700 S. Harlem Ave., in Worth, is being blamed by some residents of neighboring Water's Edge Estates mobile home park for a rat problem there. But the owner of the restaurant said he has never been cited for any violations and points the finger of blame back at the residents.
Accusations are being batted back and forth between businesses on Harlem Avenue in Worth and residents of a neighboring mobile home park. At issue: Who is to blame for a rat problem affecting all of them?
Dennis McClintock is among the residents of the Water’s Edge Estates mobile home park at 7240 Southwest Highway, who has pointed the finger of blame at the Fattoush restaurant, 10700 S. Harlem Ave., for an ongoing problem with rats in the neighboring mobile home park.
McClintock’s home is separated from the restaurant by a fence, and he said recently that refuse from the restaurant attracts rats to his property as well as his neighbors’. He also showed a reporter photos of garbage lying between his double-wide trailer and the fence, which he said was thrown over by people associated with the restaurant.
“One time they threw it over, and I threw it back,” said McClintock, who claimed that there were never any problems until Fattoush and a hookah bar opened on the site, where the Sandpiper restaurant once stood. Some of the pictures showed empty bags of charcoal and boxes labeled tobacco.
However, the owner of Fattoush sees it another way. He said the rats are coming from the trailer park onto the restaurant property.
“My employees smoke out in the back and they have seen rats. But they are not coming from here,” he said.
“People from the trailer park do come in here and complain. But I tell them to go to the village because the problem is not caused by us. Inspectors are in here every two weeks and we have never gotten a citation,” said Naser Farhan, who has owned Fattoush for the past five years. He also opened the hookah lounge next door.
“It is a different business, but I own them both,” he said.
Farhan took a reporter on a tour around the exterior of the property on Monday, pointing out that there was no garbage left between his building and the fence, except for several flattened boxes that he said came from that day’s deliveries.
He also pointed out several bait traps placed by the pest control company he employs. The restaurant owner claimed that his exterminator comes by more often than the one employed by the mobile home park.
Farhan acknowledged that the wooden enclosure around the dumpsters beside the building was open, and the dumpsters were full. But he said the garbage collection would be done later in the day. He said a hole in the enclosure was caused by a garbage truck and is being repaired.
“We have garbage collection on a daily basis, except for Sunday,” he said.
“There are no violations as of today,” said Carol Rak, code enforcement officer for the village of Worth, on Tuesday.
She said photos were taken of the site that day as well, with no evidence of garbage being thrown over the fence.
Farhan said that until a recent clean-up, there were piles of wood and other debris left behind some of the mobile homes, which he said provide hiding places for rats. He also blamed the owners of the adjoining strip mall, located south of Fattoush. But in turn, one of the business owners there pointed the finger of blame right back at him.
Omar Qararah, whose family has owned the Ramallah grocery store in the strip mall since 1987, said the problem lies with Fattoush.
“We never had any problems with the restaurant that was there before,” he said.
Qararah also took a reporter on a tour behind his store, pointing out that flowers are planted and there was no garbage whatsoever.
“We’re a grocery store. That is a restaurant,” he said, asserting that his business, where food is not prepared, would not be likely to attract rats.