Restaurant workers busted prepping food on ground

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A Charlotte restaurant was caught preparing food on the ground behind the building to be served inside in a viewer-recorded video that was sent to FOX 46 Charlotte.

Tokyo Grill & Buffet (8215 University City Blvd, Charlotte NC 28213) had two employees, caught on camera, peeling onions that were exposed to the asphalt next to garbage cans, dumpsters and filth.

"It's kind of unfortunate if you're buying food from there," one restaurant-goer said.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department called this a "critical violation." FOX 46 Charlotte reached out to the department with questions surrounding the video and it sent a health inspector to the scene within one hour, last Thursday.

The video was recorded in May. The restaurant's general manager confirms the food was being prepared on the ground but said at least one employee in the video has been fired and that a manager was not on duty that day to keep the workers from doing it.

Not having a manager on duty is a violation, according to the health department.

The health department said the restaurant manager also admitted that more onions had been prepped off the ground on Aug. 24, when FOX 46 Charlotte went to the restaurant and the department followed.

The restaurant was forced to throw out that food.

Tokyo Grill has had three-official inspections this year. It's current health score is a 91.5. In 2016, it went as low as 87.

Food being prepared on the ground can lower its current score as much as three points, according to the health department.

"You have dust and debris, you have animals back there," the health department's Amy Michelone said. "You have the garbage can out there which is obviously not sanitary and so you have so many sources of contamination that re going to get into that food."

FOX 46 Charlotte witnessed a dead rodent in a trash can next to the area where the food was being prepared. The manager told FOX 46 it's common for rodents to be outside as it is near the woods.

There's no evidence that the rodent was near the onions.

Tokyo Grill & Buffet will have at least one more random inspection in 2017.

"We are always going to keep that (video) in the back of our minds," Michelone added. "And we're going to make sure that they're in compliance."