September 30, 2009
Health inspectors close popular Sacramento cafe

A downtown Sacramento lunch spot famous for its soup has been shuttered due to cockroaches.

La Bonne Soupe, which topped a Sacramento Zagat Survey category earlier this year, closed this morning after Sacramento County health inspectors found pests in the small restaurant at 920 8th Street.

An inspector found three live cockroaches and 15 dead ones during a routine inspection, said John Rogers, the county's environmental health division chief. The cafe was closed before lunch service and a red "Closed" placard, which means an "immediate danger to public health or safety," was issued.

A call to the restaurant's owner, Daniel Pont, has not yet been returned.

Rogers characterized the infestation as "mild."

"This one isn't that bad, so it shouldn't be too hard to get it reopened," he said.

The county closes a little more than 100 food facilities each year, which amounts to about 1 percent of the facilities inspected.

La Bonne Soupe, owned and operated single-handedly by Pont, is well-known for its lunch fare and the droves of people that stand in line for the Frenchman's soups and sandwiches.

The restaurant earned the No. 1 ranking in the "best food" category in the Sacramento Zagat Survey pocket dining guide released in January.

Kerri Aiello, a spokeswoman with the Countywide Services Agency, said her phone has been ringing in protest since news about the restaurant broke earlier today.

"People are calling me and saying 'Why did you do it?'" said Aiello, who also is a fan of the soup spot.

Pont will have to enlist a pest control company to eliminate the cockroach problem and pay a $199 re-inspection fee. The restaurant will remain closed until environmental health officials can re-inspect the facility.

The length of time a restaurant remains shuttered varies, but "sometimes it's just one day," Aiello said.

Click here to check out The Bee's restaurant inspection database.

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