Was a popular Asian bistro in Atlanta closed down this morning after authorities found packaged rats and mice in the kitchen? No, that's not true: This is an old hoax that has been circulating since at least 2004 and is not true. The image used in the post was found online long before the purported restaurant bust.
A popular Asian/Chinese restaurant bistro in Atlanta was closed down this morning after authorities received a tip that the owner was accepting shipments of rats and mice from a vendor to prepare in his dishes. The owner and his wife were arrested early this morning and charges are not known at this time. After a full search of the kitchen, authorities found, packaged rats, mice, kittens, pups... So Now U KNOW ! Bon Appetite😪
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Aug 7 16:51:27 2020 UTC)
A reverse image search for the image of the packaged rodents which were allegedly found in the kitchen points to a vendor who does indeed sell packaged rodents to reptile and raptor keepers. Their website (here)(archived here) says:
SouthFloridaRodents.com is based out of Brooksville, FL. We produce mice, rats & quail and distribute rabbits, chicks, crickets & worms as feeder animals for the reptile and birds of prey communities. We sell to small breeders and local pet shops up to some of the nations leading breeders and zoos. Our product is available at the most affordable price, with year-round availability. Since your reptile's health is based on what you feed it, we feed all our animals a scientifically formulated, vet approved rodent diet. All our mice and rats are Vacuum packed for an extended shelf life.
This same hoax was debunked by Snopes on January 13, 2005. The article titled "Was a Chinese Restaurant in Atlanta Caught With Shipments of Rat Meat?" (here)(archived here) explained that they first encountered the hoax in 2004. The images included in the earliest version are also packaged reptile food, but are not the same photos. The original 2004 hoax text included in the Snopes article has additional details about a frozen hawk and a long list of celebrity patrons. The bolded part of this caption is the part that resurfaced in this 2020 version of the hoax:
NOT CHICKEN, LOOK HARDER
Popular Atlanta Restaurant SHUT DOWN!
A popular Asian/Chinese restaurant bistro in Atlanta was closed down this morning after authorities received a tip that the owner was accepting shipments of rats and mice from a vendor to prepare in his dishes. The owner and his wife were arrested early this morning and charges are not known at this time. After a full search of the kitchen, authorities found packaged rats, mice, kittens, [pups...] puppies and a large frozen hawk. The restaurant is a popular gathering spot for local celebrities such as Whitney Houston and husband Bobby Brown, Jermaine Dupree, Janet Jackson, Usher, Monica, Puffy, TI, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Toni Braxton, TLC and others. The restaurant has locations off Peachtree Road and Alpharetta near North Pointe Mall.