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Workers allege unsanitary conditions at Colorado Springs Papa John’s

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Four employees of a Colorado Springs' Papa John's tell 13 Investigates that workers were forced to keep making food despite unsanitary conditions over the weekend.

Videos posted on TikTok show employees trying to turn on the water in the sinks, but the water is not flowing. Despite not being able to wash their hands, the four employees that worked at the Papa John's on Saturday say they were told by management to keep working.

Zachary Rambo was one of those employees. Rambo used to make pizzas, and is no longer employed at the restaurant.

After working for four hours on Saturday, Rambo says he left in the middle of his shift due to the unsanitary conditions. At 4:50 p.m. on Saturday, Rambo recorded the situation at the restaurant on his phone before he left. He would later post the video on his sister's TikTok account.

When Rambo returned to the restaurant two hours later to see if the water was flowing again, management told him to leave, even threatening to call the police.

At 11:50 a.m. on Saturday, a second employee recorded video inside of the restaurant, displaying that there was no water coming out of the sinks but the Papa John's was still taking food orders. The employee told 13 Investigates he chose to quit the job due to the unsanitary conditions.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Retail Food Code, employees are required to wash their hands with warm water prior to working with exposed food.

El Paso County Public Health says a lack of water in a restaurant is considered an imminent health hazard and requires closure of a facility until adequate water is supplied.

“Pipes were frozen from the weather. It was zero degrees, and he pretty much just said get to work,” said Rambo. "They are selling pizzas without washing their hands, during COVID, during a health epidemic."

Two more employees that worked at the Papa John's on Saturday have corroborated Rambo's story to 13 Investigates. Both say the water was not running throughout their shifts on Saturday, and management ordered them to keep working.

El Paso County Public Health confirmed with KRDO they were informed of a water pipe bursting at the Papa John's located at 621 N. Union Blvd due to cold temperatures on Sunday.

Here is the full account from El Paso County Health:

One of our environmental health specialists called the facility at 11 a.m. on Sunday 2/14. Our specialist spoke with the general manager, who stated they did not have running water. The general manager stated that outage occurred on Saturday afternoon, and they closed when they realized it could not be repaired without a needed part. Our team was told the issue was caused by a water pipe bursting due to cold temperatures and that they expected to have it repaired shortly. The facility was still closed during the phone call.

El Paso County health officials would not specify if they are investigating the allegations made against the Papa John's.

The corporate offices of Papa John's provided 13 Investigates with a statement:

"Papa John's takes the health and safety of our employees and customers very seriously. In this particular situation, due to the cold weather, the water line froze. The restaurant was immediately closed in order to have repairs made. The owner of this franchised location confirmed the employee in the video was not let go. Instead, the employee walked off the job."

After providing proof that the dishwashing sink and hand sink had adequate hot water, the Papa John's located at Union Blvd was permitted to reopen by El Paso County Health Officials at 12:40 pm on Sunday the 14th.

13 Investigates reached out to DCT Enterprises of Colorado, the company currently franchising the Papa John's restaurant located at Union Blvd. However, they declined to comment on our story.


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Dan Beedie

Dan is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about Dan here.


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