Earlier this year, Southern Living magazine determined that the best restaurant in the American south was L’Opossum, in Richmond, Virginia. Since executive chef and James Beard Award semi-finalist David Shannon opened L’Opossum four years ago, it has received plenty of in-print accolades, but its namesake creature has never been seen on the premises.
But less than two miles away, at a different Richmond joint, that hasn’t been the case. A former employee of My Noodle & Bar has shared photos that allegedly show two possums in the kitchen, including one who lived in a storage bucket “for some time.”
Some of the photos that were posted on Imgur (by Zadddydaycare, a username that we almost feel obligated to mention) show two possums hanging out the kitchen, in addition to several shots that are either more or less unsettling, depending on how you feel about that particular animal. The additional pictures depict the restaurant’s questionable food storage practices, rodent-related debris, flood damage and standing water, and a dead cockroach described as “one of many.”
The photos were posted two weeks ago, but another former My Noodle & Bar employee has confirmed that the depiction is accurate. “There was like a opossum running around and we were like, ‘Oh cute, but also gross,’” Sammi Lanzetta told WWBT. "We eventually captured the opossum and let it back outside.” Lanzetta said that she’d also personally seen the roaches, the plumbing leaks and “health code violations” during her time in the kitchen.
My Noodle & Bar’s owner, Joe Kiatsuranon, acknowledged that there had been a possum in his restaurant, but said that it wasn’t in the kitchen—despite what was shown in the photos—and that it was also “like three months ago.” (Oh, that’s totally better.) Kiatsuranon also said that there had been some water damage from heavy rains during the fall, but those issues had been resolved, as had the “pests and harborage conditions” that had been noted by an inspector from the city’s Health Department.
In a statement he later sent to the news station, Kiatsuranon again acknowledged that there have been some issues in the restaurant, but hey, that’s just what happens when you’re located in an historic section of the city.
“Richmonders have come to love restaurants housed in historic buildings and with any older building there are ongoing concerns about maintenance,” he wrote. “Any issues we have here, are issues that every restaurant in such buildings are facing daily. Unfortunately, in today’s atmosphere where anyone with a real or imagined complaint can go online and make any claim they care to make; all businesses deal with PR nightmares. I can assure you that my friends eat here. My children eat here. I am going to do everything possible to address any concerns.”
But what about the opossums? Do they still eat there?
This article originally appeared on Munchies US.