Since a dead rat was found in a salted vegetable dish at Hotpot Culture, which is on the fourth floor.5 eateries at Marina Square have been so badly affected by a fall in customers that they have shut their doors – The Corner Place Korean BBQ, Cafe Lady M, Addictions Cafe & Remedy Bar, Brazilian restaurant Carnivore Appetite and Italian Japanese restaurant Nuvo have closed down since January.

Carnivore Appetite shut down in February according to an unnamed employee. “Mainly, it was because of the rat infestation. Customer traffic really fell after that.”

Addictions Cafe & Remedy Bar employee also shut down February, ahead of its lease expiry in November, because of the rat infestation.

Nuvo shut on Jan 29 with a notice on its Facebook page declaring that it would cease operations “until the situation at Marina Square has been resolved”. It has not reopened.

Lady M shut in January, with The Corner Place Korean BBQ following soon after.

The problem has not been resolved, although the National Environment Agency took pains to say that the situation is improving.

“Our assessment is that there has been a marked improvement in the rat situation at the mall, as there has been a significant reduction in the number of rats caught.” An NEA spokesperson said. “However, as dead rats were still being found at the mall as recently as last month, it may still be some time before the ongoing rat control measures take effect fully.”

Meanwhile, remaining eateries report poor business.

Chinese restaurant Yechun Xiao Jiang Nan is likely to close when its lease expires at the year end. It is losing $20,000 each month, said managing director Li Jing.

This is despite landlord Marina Centre Holdings’ rental reprieve of up to 30 per cent for July, August and September. Mr Li said the 20 per cent discount he received, off the more than $45,000-a-month rent he is paying, is not enough. He pointed out that other factors, such as road closures soon for National Day and the Formula One race next month, will hit business once again.

Meanwhile, Japanese restaurant Hamanoya shut for a month after the rat incident and reopened in March with a new menu.

Reporters visited the mall last week and found restaurants empty at dinner time. The spaces where Nuvo, Addictions Cafe & Remedy Bar, and Lady M used to be remain vacant. On Carnivore Appetite’s entrance was a notice from the landlord informing the eatery that it had failed to comply with requirements to open daily from 10am to 10pm. “We are entitled to remove any goods… and apply the proceeds of the sales of such goods against the costs and payment incurred and any arrears of rent,” read the letter.

When contacted, Marina Centre Holdings did not comment specifically on how it was addressing the pest problem or how many tenants received rental discounts.

It would only say: “Pest control is an ongoing programme and we continue our vigilant pest control programme with our tenants.”

Strangely enough, business at Hotpot Culture is “almost back to normal”, said its owner Wilson Lim. The NEA said over 20 inspections of the eatery after its suspension was lifted in February found “no hygiene lapses or pest infestation”.

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