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Making sure food safety drives the bus

It doesn’t pay to be cheap. That’s a small lesson from the kitchen at Metro Marché, a full-service restaurant combined with a takeout shop in New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal.

When the eatery, the first of its kind in the busy transportation hub, opened in late 2006, the staff used cutting boards that seemed adequate but were flimsy. Within months, management had to fork over more money to upgrade the boards to thicker, sturdier versions that could handle the wear and tear of the place’s busy kitchen.

Metro Marché, a joint venture between local restaurateur Simon Oren and takeout-shop specialist S.T. Management Group, is subject to health inspections from both New York City and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. On top of that, S.T. Management, which operates 20 takeout shops elsewhere in the city, uses a third-party auditor to conduct monthly inspections.

Under such scrutiny, Metro Marché strives to be inspection-ready every day, said general manager Jim Tula, who is one of several people on staff with food safety certification. “We have tried not to worry about if they are coming and when they are coming,” he said.

Simon Glenn, the executive chef, keeps a close eye on cleanliness. “I try to get the staff involved in the little things that are often missed, and that bring huge fines that can get you shut down for something silly,” he said. “The French fry cutter is a daily constant reminder. Three times a day I will lift it up and look and make a big show of it,” he said.

Since the restaurant opened, Glenn has implemented a uniform day dot system to track food rotation. The colored dots have three languages, English, Spanish and French. “We wanted one system with one label,” he said.

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