The owner of a restaurant that's reopened after it was forced to shut due to a cockroach infestation says customers are "starting to return".
Mexican-themed Tacos Locos in Sittingbourne High Street had to close last year after hygiene inspectors made the shocking discovery.
Musa Kivrak, who opened the Tex Mex in the former Bull Inn pub in January 2018, said the setback was not something he had ever experienced.
“If I knew how it happened it wouldn't have happened in the first place," he said. "We have nothing to hide.
“I have been in business for 45 years and I am well-trained. I have never had any issues like this in all those years."
Swale council had given the restaurant a ‘0’ out of five food hygiene rating – the lowest possible score.
During their visit, the inspectors found an “active and widespread” cockroach infestation which saw the restaurant labelled as a “significant risk to public health”.
A prohibition notice was issued on Wednesday, November 1 and the Mexican closed.
A further inspection took place in December which the council says was “to ensure the hygiene issues identified had been dealt with satisfactorily”.
It found the restaurant had made changes and it was able to reopen at the end of that month.
Mr Kivrak, who also founded Tacos Locos in Canterbury, told KentOnline he was “very happy” to have reopened and that the “little problem” was now in the past.
“We have sorted the problem out by working with the Food Standards Agency so that we can get back open,” he said.
“The pandemic did not help us either as people's shopping and spending attitudes are different...”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he admitted “business has been slow” but said he believed this was the situation for most businesses in the High Street.
He said: “The pandemic did not help us either as people's shopping and spending attitudes are different.
“People also don’t have a lot of money at the moment because of the cost of living crisis so can’t go out and spend.
“But our customers are starting to return as they trust us for the work we do.”
Since reopening, Swale council has been asked to return so Tacos Locos can receive an updated food hygiene rating.
A spokesman for the authority said it would take two to three months, as officers needed to “ensure the improvements made have been sustained".
The premises that Tacos Locos occupies has been on the market since at least last summer. It now has a guide price of £650,000.
Mr Kivrak, who also opened Italian restaurant Amalfi in Sittingbourne High Street, said he is still focused on trading in the town and “building the business up” but if we are “given the right offer” he would sell.