Viral video of rats swarming a DC pizzeria was a sham, owner says

Photo: iridi (iStock)

On Monday, Halil Sarica fired an employee from his restaurant, Dupont Pizza in Washington, DC. On Tuesday, the employee received his last paycheck. On Wednesday, a mysterious post appeared on Facebook that contained a video of a mischief of rats swarming through the pizzeria’s kitchen with the caption, “I was just sent this from the now former manager of DUPONT PIZZA in P st DC next to Subways. Please do not go here He is telling me to spread the word about this!!” Naturally, the video went viral. On Thursday, the health inspector arrived and shut down Dupont Pizza. But not because of rats—at least not rats of the rodent persuasion.

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Sarica says the whole thing was a setup. For one thing, the fired employee was not a manager. More importantly, someone else sent Sarica what they claim is the original rat video. It’s dated June 2, 2016. Sarica admits that Dupont Pizza has had problems with rats in the past—“To be honest, D.C. has always had rat problems,” he told the Washington Post—but he’s been scrupulous about scheduling monthly visits from a pest control service to keep the problem under control. (He showed the Post the receipts.)

Yes, the restaurant was shut down, but the inspector found no evidence of rats, a health department spokeswoman told the Post. The shutdown was because of “no hot water and operating a food establishment with circumstances that may endanger public health,” according to the report. The inspector came back on Friday and gave Sarica the all-clear to reopen.

The disgruntled former employee did not respond to inquiries from the Post.

Take this as your daily reminder not to believe everything you read on the internet. Even videos can lie. Even videos of rats swarming through a kitchen, which is so outrageous you really, really want to believe it. Unfortunately, that’s a lot more irresistible than a dirty can opener and two dead roaches, which is what the inspector actually found, and which they failed to post pictures of on social media.

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About the author

Aimee Levitt

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.