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Employees not surprised by McDonald’s closure for ‘pest issue’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A popular McDonald’s on the city’s near-north side closed Wednesday after complaints the restaurant is running rampant with pests. 

The Marion County Health Department closed the restaurant at 1611 N. Meridian around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, confirming the “pest issue.” The restaurant had reopened by 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“The gnats are like everywhere,” a McDonalds employee who asked to remain anonymous told News 8. “They are around the ice-cream machine and all the other stuff.” 

A green “closed” note from the Marion County Health Department could be seen taped to the front door of the McDonald’s for much of Wednesday.

The employee said the pest problem has gotten out of control.

“This does not surprise me,” said the employee. “There’s been flies and stuff everywhere for the past few months.”

The Marion County Health Department said the call to finally close the pest-ridden restaurant came Tuesday after another complaint was filed with the health department. 

Inspectors came in Wednesday morning. 

“We looked around the dining area and saw an excessive amount of fruit flies,” said Derek Trackwell, food and consumer safety supervisor with the health department. “‘Excessive’ would be too numerous to count. Above their soda drink station and their drive-thru area, by their front counters where they have their menus and self-serve ice cream, all of those areas, walls, ceilings, were covered with them.”

Trackwell said McDonald’s put up fly traps and worked to fix the problem, but the fruit flies didn’t go away. That’s why the department was forced to close the store down. 

It was a decision that left customers frustrated and confused.

“Why would you allow your establishment to be shut down for something that is minute, that you could have corrected a long time ago?” Lurstan Massengale said. 

Many could be seen trying to open the locked doors only to find a note telling them the store was closed until the pest problem was alleviated.

“I just wanted to get an iced coffee real quick before I had to go to work,” Paula Robert said. “I walked up to McDonald’s and there is a health notice, which is pretty nasty.”

According to the health department’s website, inspectors have been sent to the McDonald’s 40 times since late 2015.

Normally, a fast-food restaurant only requires routine inspections twice a year.

Inspection reports show complaints ranging from live bugs being found in a cup of orange juice to potential roaches in the frappe machine.

Trackwell said the decision to close McDonald’s wasn’t taken lightly.

“When you’re dealing with closing the facility, you’re looking at the root cause of why are they still having an issue if they have treated for a particular pest?” Trackwell said. “Especially for fruit flies. It’s cleaning issues. So, if It’s something where they are getting food spills, drink spills, that’s going to be an attractant for them.”

Crews could be seen inside the restaurant Wednesday wearing masks, spraying and sanitizing the dining area.

A process employees say is too little, too late. 

“They need to find new management,” said the employee. “Find better management. I can’t work in a store like that.” 

The health department said the restaurant was closed until the problem is eradicated and the restaurant is re-inspected. It was expected to take days, but the store reopened after being closed about half a day. 

If you have a concern about a local restaurant, the health department asks people to call the customer hotline at 317-221-2222.