116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Eleven days after it closed when authorities said they discovered an active meth lab inside, a Taco Bell restaurant on busy Blairs Ferry Road got the go-ahead Friday to reopen following an extensive cleaning.
The Linn County Public Health Department determined the restaurant, at 2621 Blairs Ferry Road NE, is safe to reopen following a second round of tests by Terracon, an environmental consulting company.
Even with the public health go-ahead, the company said Friday it would first coach workers on the fast-food business's fundamentals before reopening.
'While the employee responsible for this incident was immediately terminated, the franchisee is currently retraining the staff, which will include a review of company values, resources and safety standards.' the statement said. 'Once we have completed all of these important steps, we look forward to re-opening the restaurant.'
Christopher A. Matous, 31, who wrote on Facebook that he was a Taco Bell assistant manager. faces meth charges and remained in the Linn County Jail Friday on $50,000 bail.
In its initial assessment, Terracon said it found elevated levels of methamphetamine residue in four of 10 locations in the restaurant.
Iowa CTS Cleaners, a Grimes-based business that specializes in cleaning homicide and meth lab crime scenes, spent two days scrubbing the restaurant's surfaces and ventilation, according to a report released by the health department.
The new test results show that levels of meth residue in the restaurant are now below recommended levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The analysis showed traces of meth in an office, southeast storage room, in the vent hood over the cooktop and in the return ductwork in the storage room and dining area.
According to a criminal complaint released this month, Cedar Rapids police found an 'active' lab with fuel, lye, drain cleaner and other items used to make meth. Also found were up to 2 grams of meth at the scene, the complaint said.
The records do not state where the lab was found inside the restaurant. But a police spokesman said remnants of it were found in a utility room.
Early Aug. 4, police were called to the Taco Bell on a suspicious persons call. Officers said they found Matous and another man outside. Concerned, they called the manager to the scene, went inside with him and found the meth lab, authorities said.
Matous was charged with manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and three counts of possession of meth precursors.
The other man found at the scene was not charged.
The owner of the company hired to cleanse the restaurant, John Krusenstjerna, owner of Iowa CTS Cleaners, declined to go into specifics about the job. But he said in general, there's a standard way to clean up after meth labs.
It involves cleaning any hard surfaces, painted surfaces, metal items and the floor while removing any porous items that can't be cleaned, such as food.
Crews also will clean the building's ventilation, because fumes from active meth labs can be sucked into it.
In their cleanings, they use a product that breaks down the chemical composition of the meth residue.