A pizza chain in Pacifica is having an online reckoning after photos of an employee sleeping on a pizza blanket by the toilet and dirty work station went viral in a Reddit post this week.
But customers and former employees of Papa Murphy’s in Pacifica have been sounding the alarm since 2017, when new owners — plus cricket-infested spinach and expired food — took over.
“The health department urgently needs to shut this place down!!” Jennie R. wrote on Yelp. “Expired food, disgusting conditions, managers forcing employees to serve food from the trash can!”
Though Yelp isn’t always the most reliable judgment for a restaurant, reviewers issue dire warnings to “stay away if you value your health” and reports of vegetables sitting atop “disgusting tables and dirty machines.” One customer was handed pizza with mold on it after spotting green onions floating in water and sauces in containers with caked edges.
The most damning report comes from a former employee, Hannah Finger, who worked there for about two years under different ownership. She went from working under strict cleaning orders to what she describes as “cutting corners,” like merely sweeping instead of mopping and unwashed dishes, that led to regular sightings of cockroaches.
Finger says manager Jay Singh, son of the owners who she identified as the sleeping employee, went against orders from the health inspectors to throw out romaine lettuce recalled for E. coli and expired sausage by having Finger dig it out of the trash once. She says she found crickets in the spinach once and never once stocked fresh food shipments. Owners also operated a Papa Murphy’s in Sunnyvale, which is now closed, and that expired food would often come from there.
“It was a lot of ‘You don’t have to do this anymore,’ ” Finger tells SF Weekly. “Somehow, they’re still in businesses.”
Records from the San Mateo County Environmental Health Department show that restaurant has been out of compliance with several health codes since 2017. Calls to the restaurant and its owners were not answered or returned.
“San Mateo County Health is aware of the photos posted online that are purported to be from Papa Murphy’s in Pacifica,” said department spokesperson Preston Merchant in an email. “Environmental Health Services has registered a complaint and is investigating. Inspection reports are a snapshot in time and may not reflect current site conditions; therefore, we are looking into the matter.”
Besides allegedly serving unsafe food to the public, Singh is accused of sexually harassing a few of his female employees. Finger was 17 years old when she says Singh told her she would look better with butt implants, touched the collar of her shirt to fix it, showed her pictures of women on his phone, and said he waits for women to appear “really drunk” at clubs before making a move.
Finger quit after a few months under new ownership but said they refused to give her and other employees tax forms. When she went back to the restaurant, Singh allegedly hit her in the face in January 2018, according to Pacifica police records.
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe says his office declined to prosecute Singh, for the manager had previously told Finger to stay off the premises and a jury was not likely to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
On Sunday afternoon, Pacifica police were called once again to Papa Murphy’s. There was an apparent scuffle that involved a mattress obstructing the bathroom door and Singh had fled. Police eventually booked him under legal name Jasvir Singh for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, says Capt. Chris Clements.
“I was kinda happy that my post blew up on Reddit,” Finger says. “That place is a total circus and I’m getting beyond satisfaction that light is being shined on it now.”
San Francisco had its own share of health code violations this week. A video posted on Reddit shows a man sitting at a table with a dead raccoon on it before standing up and leaving.
“Only in San Francisco!” exclaimed a man in the video.
That we know of, narrator, that we know of.