Updated at 5:10 p.m.
The safety and well being of York Galleria of customers, partners and employees is of the utmost importance, said General Manager, Lucinda Hartshorne.
Provisions have been put in to place in the mall's common areas, she said, but declined to elaborate.
Galleria staff is working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and mall management will reopen the food court when the state deems it appropriate, Hartshorne said.
"We regret any inconvenience this causes," she said.
Caution tape and empty tables created a quiet scene Tuesday evening in the York Galleria food court, which was closed that afternoon after state officials said they discovered an infestation of cockroaches.
"This is gross. There's no other way to describe it," said Leslie Poff, a shopper from Red Lion.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture was made aware of the "pervasive problem" by a consumer complaint, which inspectors responded to within 24 hours, according to Samantha Krepps, spokeswoman for the department.
It's a problem that can create a health hazard, according to information from both the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the National Institutes of Health.
Information released on the state Department of Health's website explains cockroaches can pick up disease-causing bacteria, such as Salmonella, on their legs and carry it onto foods, causing food poisoning.
And cockroach allergens appear to worsen asthma symptoms more than both dust mites and pet allergens, according to the National Institutes of Health.
"Part of our job is to protect human health and safety," Krepps said. "The best way to do that and remediate the problem was to close the restaurants."
Eight restaurants inside the York Galleria, at 2899 Whiteford Road in Springettsbury Township, were closed as a result of the state health inspectors' review, she said. They include Bamboo Express, McDonald's, PhillyBoyz Cheesesteaks, SaladWorks, Sbarro's, Subway, Taco Bell and Tokyo Nichi.
Auntie Anne's Pretzels, which was not affected, closed voluntarily to make it easier for the area to be cleaned, she said.
"The whole situation gives me the creeps," said Emigsville resident Maggie Liston. "Even when it opens again, it will be hard to eat here again."
Eradication: As pest control works to eradicate the problem, the restaurants will remain closed for about two days, Krepps said.
Following that, an inspection is scheduled for Thursday morning. If health inspectors find the restaurants in compliance with the state's food safety laws, the food court might reopen as early as Thursday afternoon, she said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture conducts about 30, 000 inspections a year, with every restaurant in the state receiving an annual inspection, she said.
State inspection records show most of the closed restaurants were inspected between Aug. 18 and Dec. 28, 2011. All but one, Tokyo Nichi, had passed inspections.
Tokyo Nichi was found out of compliance by health inspectors on Sept. 7, 2011, with 10 violations, and Aug. 25, 2010, with seven violations. Cockroaches were not discovered on either of those dates, and the restaurant passed both of its followup inspections.
It was in compliance at the time of Tuesday's shutdown, and Krepps said no specific restaurant has been identified as the source of the infestation that led to the closure.
York resident Jason Ivy said he was shocked by the closure.
"It's just not what you expect to see out here. I eat at this Taco Bell probably once a week. Everything always seemed clean, and this is a clean mall usually."
Galleria management and maintenance officials were not available for comment and it was not immediately clear how many employees will lose hours because of the restaurant closures.
CBL & Associates Properties Inc., the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based owner of the Galleria, also did not return calls seeking comment.
- Candy Woodall can also be reached at email@example.com.