A VEGAN restaurant in Cowley Road temporarily closed after hygiene inspectors said there was a ‘foul smell’ in its kitchen and rat droppings in an outdoor area.

Happy Friday Kitchen's owner Lola Dixon said they were 'devastated' by Oxford City Council's health team giving the business one star, meaning 'major improvement necessary', following a surprise visit on November 27.

She said all issues had been fixed 'within two days' and customers were free to look in the restaurant's kitchen.

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A letter sent to the business after the inspection stated: “At the time of my inspection the standards found on site were unacceptable. Of particular concern was the open drain pipe in the kitchen which gave rise to a foul smell, the accumulation of filth and lack of available information on allergen content of food.

"An imminent risk to health was found and I appreciate your cooperation in voluntarily closing the premises and carrying out necessary improvements.

"A satisfactory standard of hygiene was found on November 29 and the premises were reopened.”

Oxford Mail:

Inside Happy Friday Kitchen. Picture: Lola Dixon

Ms Dixon, who opened the restaurant in 2017 and which previously had a five -star rating, said: "We did feel it was particularly harsh and a misrepresentation of the true health and hygiene practices upheld in the kitchen.

"Despite the report detailing several items, the reason for the low rating was purely legal in that there was an uncapped pipe in the kitchen, this was rectified the same day as the original inspection."

Read our original story about Happy Friday Kitchen when it got five stars

The 26-year-old added: "However, we are grateful for the experience and that certain issues were brought to our attention, for example the open pipe that was not picked up on our first inspection.

"The report commented that this caused a foul smell however this was not noticed on the first inspection or by anyone who has entered the kitchen within the last two years."

On the issue of rat droppings, Ms Dixon said the garden was out of use and although they had a pest control contract in place is was 'impossible' to keep rats away altogether as Cowley Road was 'unfortunately notorious' for pest problems.

The business owner, sharing several pictures of the current condition of the restaurant and kitchen, said every issue raised had been immediately rectified and all supporting evidence sent to the council.

Oxford Mail:

The current condition of the kitchen. Picture: Lola Dixon

She added they had paid for an official rescore to be carried out but this had still not been done.

The business owner continued: "We are more than confident that upon the inspection we will be awarded a rating that truly reflects the high cleanliness and safety standards upheld here.

"We sincerely apologise and hope that this temporary rating does not put any one off from visiting us."