A RESTAURANT owner has explained why his business was given a zero food hygiene rating just months after moving into new premises. 

Rob Kirk, who founded and owns Taco Bob's on Redcar High Street, said a raft of structural problems only uncovered during an inspection led to the score.

He has since said all issues identified have been, or are in the process, of being resolved in time for opening - while vowing to get a five rating. 

An inspection from the Food Standards Agency in February led to Mr Kirk being told he must make "urgent improvements" to the new premises, further up the High Street.

At the time, inspectors gave the premises at 131a High Street a zero food hygiene rating as a result.

Mr Kirk, who is originally from the Teesside town, explained how they had only found out about the issues - relating to an unused space - after the inspection.

He said: "We moved into 131 a few months ago as it's a bigger building, and we had planned to open the back area into a restaurant.

"But this was at the time Covid had hit and everywhere was closing down again, so we opened part of the building and used it to continue with takeaways.

"So in the report, some of the structural issues were at the back part of the building, which didn’t come to our attention in the way, that it would had we’d been using that part of the building."

Mr Kirk, who said his original business had always scored a five, recently had to return to their smaller takeaway while work continued.

He said: "When we had our inspection - several things came to light that we were not in the process of getting fixed in the moment – we went back to our older building as we still have a bit of time left of the lease.

"We have had it and have had the roof fixed and we have had it completely redecorated.

"We don’t know when the previous owners last did a deep clean on the extraction fan, but we have had that done too.

"We are 100 percent confident we will be able to get a five when we are re-inspected.

"We've had nothing but fives since we started in 2017, and all the problems that we have been made aware of have been fixed, or is in the process of being fixed.

"It just such a shame - we’ve never taken on a building of that size and it’s just been a learning curve."

Hoping to move on, Mr Kirk said he was looking forward to converting the back part of the premises into a restaurant over the next couple of months.

He said: "Our old premises was such a small building, we are now looking forward to opening the back part for May 17, hopefully."

Mr Kirk explained that once open, the restaurant will serve a range of fresh Mexican dishes inspired by his time living in the United States.

He said inspiration for Taco Rob's came from the immense popularity that type of food had across the pond.

He added: "I decided to create Taco Bobs as a bit of a homage to Taco Bell - but everything we do here is fresh, where as Taco Bell are a bit more like McDonald’s."

The business is expected to be re-inspected in coming months.