Reopening restaurants the next hurdle for operators closed by NYC inspectors

Reopening restaurants the next hurdle for operators closed by NYC inspectors

NEW YORK —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“At the end of an inspection, a city health inspector pulls a chef to the side and tells him that he has good news and bad news,” the chef said. “‘OK, give me the bad news first,’ the chef says. The inspector tells him that last night the agency got 40 calls from people who got sick from something they ate at the restaurant, and the establishment will have to be shut it down until the cause is pinpointed. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“‘[Expletive deleted],’ the chef says. ‘What the hell is the good news?’ —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

‘Well, I would have had to shut you down anyway because your kitchen is filthy and you didn’t make the grade.’ —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“‘[Expletive deleted]. You call that good news?’ the chef yells. ‘What the hell makes that good news?’ —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

‘Well,’ the inspector replies, ‘at least you aren’t hearing about it on YouTube.’” —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

The joke teller, who agreed to be interviewed only on the condition of anonymity, is struggling to make up for business lost after his eatery found itself among at least 153 restaurants forced to shut down in the month since a video clip of rats running wild in a Greenwich Village KFC [2]-Taco Bell [3] unit aired on TV and online via the World Wide Web. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

Although the chef says he is fortunate that his closure lasted only three days—forcing him to cancel a $26,000 event—other operations have been shuttered for longer. For instance, the posh Brasserie LCB, formerly La Côte Basque and under the same ownership, has been closed since the beginning of March for alleged health violations. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

Although a sign in the famed restaurant’s front window informs passersby that the establishment is closed for renovations and will reopen soon, less than two feet away a yellow placard from the health department posted March 8 tells the same viewers that the eatery is in violation of the city’s health code and cannot reopen until the problems are addressed. The sign also warns the public that it is punishable by law to remove the sign. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“When was the last time you ever heard of a foodborne illness in New York City making the evening news?” asked the joke-telling chef. “I mean, even if you throw in that Taco Bell unit with the rat problem, did anyone ever get sick there? —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“Yet these guys are coming at us as if we’re fresh off the boat from some third-world country where foodborne illness is not only an everyday affair, but tolerated.” —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

Even worse, said operators and officials at the New York State Restaurant Association [4], is that the inspectors act brutishly, are insulting and have abandoned their roles as collaborative educators. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

The agency denies those allegations, insisting that professionalism and courtesy are the hallmarks of the agency’s inspectors. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

In the New York Post’s account of the day Brasserie LCB was shut down, the restaurant’s 70-plus-year-old chef-owner, Jean-Jacques Rachou, came close to blows with the inspector in a profanity-laden confrontation when the inspectors showed up an hour before the lunch rush. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“But make no mistake, our inspectors have the authority to shut you down if in their opinion there’s a critical violation that poses a hazard to the public,” an agency spokesman said. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

Many operators claim their restaurants now are being closed for infractions that a year ago merited nothing more than a verbal warning. In addition, they charge, the rude treatment by health department officials goes all the way to the organization’s top, where operators must go in person to find out what it takes to reopen. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“When the chief executive of the company, the general manager of the unit and myself went to the hearing to see what we had to do, we were verbally attacked [by the case reviewer in the health department],” said the vice president of marketing and operations for a small, regionally based, decades-old fast-food chain that recently suffered the closing of one unit for a week. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

Requesting that neither his name nor his company’s be used in this article, the executive admitted that the shuttered unit had several problems. The unit was exposed to have mice through a television program that filmed through the unit’s windows on the Upper East Side when it was closed two days before they were inspected. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“Yeah, they found one mouse dropping, I have to admit, and a long list of violations,” he said. “But what had them shut us down was that we had a malfunctioning sink involving our hot-water pipe—I didn’t know about it myself—and that scored a critical violation. But it’s interesting to note that not one of those violations even generated a fine last year.” —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

On the morning he and his staff were to appear for an initial hearing at the health department, the marketing executive stopped by John’s Brick Oven Pizza [5] in Greenwich Village, one of the first prominent restaurants the city shut down immediately after the rat video surfaced, to see what he should prepare for. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“The owner told me, ‘Fix the violations, but go all out,’” he said. “‘Go overboard. Clean and fix things you didn’t even think about cleaning or fixing because the last thing you want is for the city to come back and find something new.’ —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“Looking back on it, I think maybe we deserved to be shut down and fix some of this stuff,” he added, disclosing that the unit scored 88 points when 28 points is enough for failure. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

Like John’s Brick Oven Pizza, his company’s restaurant is located in an old building with “ancient” piping the marketing executive said. They eventually were able to reopen the unit by installing new piping, a new sink and a new ceiling, he said. But he speculated that many operators would need financial assistance from their landlords or loans to fix some of the structural and plumbing issues that are increasingly factoring into the city’s health department inspections in old buildings. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

He estimated that the company probably lost $10,000 in sales during the week the restaurant was closed and incurred costs associated with correcting the violations and other property improvements, paying staff salaries and discarding perishable food inventories. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“I never knew before that once the city shuts you down, you are on probation for a year,” he added. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

But what is most enraging is that some members of news media are exploiting operators’ vulnerabilities, he said. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

The Friday before the Monday of the inspection that led to the fast-food unit’s closure, the executive said Fox network’s investigative evening news show, “Inside Edition,” filmed the restaurant through the windows after hours, from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., and got shots of mice darting about. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

The fast-food executive said his unit made it easy for the “sneak-attack journalism,” in that the chain’s units keep their interior lights on all night long for both marketing and security reasons. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“We want people to look inside the stores,” he said. “We have nothing to hide, and our CEO gave a statement to say that basically it’s a tough job keeping mice outside” given all of the construction and razing of buildings the neighborhood is experiencing. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

Nevertheless, he said all of the units soon will replace the front burglar gates that roll up with solid, metal, collapsible ones—not to keep mice out, he admitted, but to block prying cameras. —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.

“Of course, all that is going to do is attract graffiti,” the operator said. “But I hear restaurants all over the city are doing the same thing and for the same reason.” —Now and then a joke ripped from the day’s headlines delivers a cautionary tale along with a laugh. A chef-owner here whose restaurant was recently closed for three days by the city’s health department has been sharing one such sadly funny anecdote.