DC Popeyes shut down after viral TikTok showed rats swarming kitchen

A D.C. Popeyes is now closed for good after a viral TikTok video exposed rats in the restaurant. However, it wasn’t rats that caused health inspectors to shut the place down.

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Popeyes said Thursday that they’ve terminated the franchise agreement with the restaurant operator on Barracks Row on 8th St. Southeast. Meanwhile, man who posted the video says he’s been suspended from his job. 

Ricardo Land's TikTok video has been viewed by millions. In it, he says he delivers raw chicken to area Popeyes restaurants and takes viewers inside the 8th Street SE location.

In the video, when he turns on the lights and pounds the wall, multiple rats in the kitchen start scurrying. Some of them run up into the ceiling. 

Many people FOX 5 talked to Thursday night had seen the video already, but not everyone.

"Oh my god, that’s terrible!" one resident said. "That is totally terrible…This was my favorite Popeyes."

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Land posted the video on TikTok in mid-October and by the end of the month, D.C. health inspectors were at the door.

Inspectors say they found openings in the ceiling and rat droppings outside. They also say the temperature of the walk-in refrigerator and the freezer were over 50 degrees.

The inspection report orders the restaurant to cease and desist using the fridge and freezer immediately. It says raw chicken in the fridge and all other food must be thrown away. 

The health department closed the store and then Popeyes says it decided to keep it that way.

A Popeyes spokesperson provided a statement reading:

"We have taken action to terminate the franchise agreement with this restaurant operator. This Franchisee only operates this one location, and it is being closed indefinitely. This single restaurant does not reflect our strong food safety and cleanliness standards across Popeyes®."

FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts communicated with Land Thursday. A GoFundMe he created after he said he was suspended has raised nearly $20,000.

He’s hired an attorney who is advising Land not to do interviews at this point. The attorney says Land would like to return to work.

Land hasn’t revealed the name of his employer, so FOX 5 has not been able to reach out to that business.

Gerard Brown, director for D.C. Health’s rodent and vector control program, said what Land’s video shows is not typical in the city.

"It’s very rare that we hear of rats inside," he says.

Crews were out doing abatement in NW Thursday, putting rodenticide into burroughs. Brown said residents who see rats can call 311 and city crews will respond within three days.

"What we've found since the city's been closed is there’s been a change in the rats' behavior," Brown says. "They’ve become desperate and unpredictable."


He says people should remember that exposed trash and food is the main attractor.