Sqirl, the popular Virgil Village brunch spot owned by Jessica Koslow, was battered this weekend by allegations that the restaurant operated under unsafe and unsanitary working conditions for years. Among the allegations: Jams were not stored correctly, allowing for severe mold growth; the restaurant had rodent infestations that were not dealt with in a timely fashion; and the facility housed an unpermitted kitchen space that was intentionally concealed from health inspectors.
The allegations were compiled on Instagram by Joe Rosenthal, a Minnesota-based mathematician and food blogger whose work seeks to investigate “problematic figures in the food industry.” He said he became aware of potential concerns at Sqirl last week after seeing a tweet that linked to an Instagram account, @sqirltruth.
Rosenthal said that he had contacted more than a dozen current and former Sqirl employees since Saturday, all of whom, he said, shared similar accounts of improper food storage and safety practices at the restaurant; screenshots of those purported conversations were then posted to his Instagram account. (The Times interviewed some of the same employees, who confirmed Rosenthal’s account.)
Most prominent among the allegations was the claim that Koslow had instructed employees to scrape layers of mold from refrigerated jam buckets, serving the remainder to guests at the restaurant or packaging it in jars for retail distribution. Rosenthal also posted an image, allegedly sent by a Sqirl employee, of what appears to be a jam-filled plastic bucket covered with a thick layer of mold that had been partially scraped using rubber spatulas.
Read the full story on LATimes.com.