Rat falls from ceiling of Kent restaurant, landing by couple

Chinese restaurant in Sittingbourne now closed for improvement works

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Louissa Downham and her partner David West had a nasty shock when a "massive black rat" dropped from the ceiling of their local Chinese restaurant.

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The couple were eating at the Water Palace in Sittingbourne on 3 September when the rodent landed just inches away from them.

According to the Daily Mail, Miss Downham, 22, heard "weird noises" coming from above just before the rat made its unwelcome entrance.

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She said: "I got out of my seat and had a look. When I couldn't see anything I sat back down and a couple of minutes later that's when it happened. It fell right next to my partner and then scurried away into the corner. We were both in shock and couldn't believe that it really happened."

Miss Downham took to Facebook to warn others to avoid the place.

"Guys whatever you do DO NOT eat at the water palace Chinese restaurant in Sittingbourne," she posted.

"It was lovely really nice food until two courses in a bloody black rat fell from the ceiling almost onto my partner's lap! Absolutely disgusting we could hear them above us looking around then it just fell onto the floor from the ceiling how they have got a 5 hygiene rating I'll never know. Safe to say I won't be eating there again..."

The restaurant in Dover Street responded on Facebook, accusing Miss Downham of over-exaggerating.

"I am so very sorry that your night was affected. However, it is melodramatic, that you have relished this opportunity for some sort of attention, regardless of the effects and how it affects other's livelihood.

"According to some customers present with whom I have spoke to, your table over-exaggerated, and it seems you continue to do so with malicious posts on public forums.

"We apologised - it is very unfortunate. We have contracts in place with Rentokil, a rodent extermination company, and they visit the premises on a quarterly basis.

"There's nothing that could have been done to prevent last night's unfortunate incident, given the circumstances and the renovations taking place.

"Please. We're sorry. You are unharmed. You were not charged for your drinks or the two courses already consumed prior to the incident. Please. Let it go. Thank You."

The restaurant later released a statement which read: 'We are extremely sorry some of our patrons were affected by an unfortunate event that was beyond our control.

"Renovation works are being carried out in the building above which has obviously caused the rat to become frightened and scurry down.

"This was a one-off. We have been open since 2005 and never had such an issue or incident, but as an extra precaution, we will be shutting the restaurant until all renovations upstairs are completed."

Aiqin Chen, owner of the restaurant, told the Daily Mail that she has closed the premises voluntarily and has contacted a rodent specialist.

She said: "The [rodent specialist] spent three hours in my restaurant, he checked everywhere. I do the best for customers but I can't say 100 per cent that it won't happen again, but hopefully it won't happen again."

A spokesperson for Swale Borough Council confirmed that the restaurant will remain closed while improvement works take place and assured the public that it will only open once it is "safe to do so".