La Vecchia Scuola now trades under new management. See New start for La Vecchia Scuola for further information.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: FIVE restaurants, pubs or hotels in York have been given a “zero” rating by food hygiene inspectors.

Jumbo Chinese Buffet and Thida Thai restaurant in George Hudson Street, La Vecchia Scuola in Low Petergate, The Cottage Inn in Haxby and The Grange Hotel in Clifton were all given a “zero” rating out of a possible five by inspectors under the Food Standards Agency rating scheme.

The rating means “urgent improvement is necessary”.

Jumbo Chinese Buffet is now being prosecuted for food hygiene offences and City of York Council is investigating La Vecchia Scuola and The Cottage Inn with the possibility of prosecution, a council spokesman said.

The Grange Hotel was issued with a hygiene improvement notice, detailing how it should improve – issues which have since been addressed.

Jumbo and its director, Susan Chu, each face ten counts of hygiene offences, including failing to ensure its premises are kept clean and in good repair and condition, failing to protect food against any contamination which might make it unfit for human consumption and failing to have adequate procedures to control pests.

The case is due to appear in court on June 14. A manager at the restaurant declined to comment on the case.

Inspection reports released by the council about Thida Thai restaurant show officers found “inadequate” food hygiene awareness among staff, with one chef dealing with raw and partly cooked chicken skewers before handling clean plates and salad without thoroughly washing his hands.

No thorough hand washing was witnessed; mould was starting to grow on the inside surfaces of the ice machine; reheated rice was not hot enough and chicken was being defrosted by running it under hot water. The restaurant was given a series of requirements to address.

Thida Phinpho, the owner, said she disagreed with some of the judgements as the restaurant had always previously been given good ratings and they had not changed their practices and strict health rules.

She said: “If you look on our record we usually have three stars and last year we had four. I think environmental health officers have different ideas without having one standard. We have a clear routine of cleaning here.”

An inspection of The Grange Hotel in December found some faults but in March it was found that all issues outlined in the improvement notice had been addressed satisfactorily.

George Briffa, hotel general manager, said: “The poor rating was given at a time that the kitchen was going through a transition period, and does not reflect the high quality food that we prepare and serve to thousands of satisfied guests and diners annually.”

He said he expected a high score in the next inspection. He said the AA’s consistent award of four stars was testimony to its high quality and standards.

Due to possible legal action, reports were not available for La Vecchia Scuola and The Cottage Inn.

However, Vinnie Succio, the owner of La Vecchia Scuola, said: “We are a very popular restaurant.

“We have a very clean kitchen, we woud welcome people to look in the kitchen.

“We have zero stars because they came on the day the boiler was broken and we did not have hot water for a couple of days. We hope they come to check again.”

Phil Strong, the managing director of The Cottage Inn in Haxby, said: “We did get a poor rating when they visited and we have since carried out a lot of work – redecoration, servicing and deep cleaning.

“We would welcome customers to have a look in our kitchen. The quality of food speaks for itself.”

A council spokesman said 96 per cent of food business in York are compliant with Food Safety Laws, a level which has generally remained the same over the last few years.

• The results of the five-star rating scheme are published at