Sevgi and Cansev Sasmaz of the Star Express in Plumstead High Street were fined £14,140 by Bexley Magistrates on March 26 after being found guilty of food hygiene offences.
The pair landed themselves in hot water following a visit by environmental health officers in November 2011 where it emerged that the cafe's gas boiler was broken meaning there was no running hot water to supply a hand wash basin or the kitchen sink.
Under food hygiene legislation, businesses supplying food must give staff access to wash basins with hot and cold running water for hand-washinig, but despite officers supplying a warning to the Samaz's on their first visit they were found to have ignored it on a second and were issued with food hygiene improvement notices.
Further visits by officers between February and April last year found that a limited supply of hot water was available from a tea urn. However, although this was allowed as a temporary measure before the boiler was repaired, the council decided to prosecute the couple because of their persistent failure to comply with food safety requirements and the legal notices.
A spokesperson for Royal Greenwich council said the fine was so high due to both defendants failing to appear in court on several occasions. They were eventually arrested by police, but failed to attend their hearing and despite pleading not guilty were issued with a fine of £14,140 including costs.
Councillor Maureen O’Mara, the Royal Borough’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment, said: “The Royal Borough works hard to provide advice to food business owners and support them to ensure they operate safely and within the law.
"The vast majority achieve this, but Sevgi Sasmaz and Cansev Sasmaz ignored advice and warnings given on several occasions, failed to comply with basic food safety rules and did not appear to take court processes seriously. This resulted in them receiving a large financial penalty.”
The cafe's boiler has since been repaired and the business continues to trade.
The Food Standards Agency has guidance for all businesses on its website.