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Restaurant Hall of Shame

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 12, 2019 21:45

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Each week I read an article about the latest NYC restaurant closings. It's both funny and sad, with a big dollop of gossip.

Each week I receive too many emails that I have no use for, and I delete them as swiftly as possible. They're annoying in number, some could be spam or phish, and yes, this is a first-world problem. But there are a few weekly emails that I look forward to reading, such as "See The NYC Restaurants Ordered Closed Last Week." This weekly dispatch is a fascinating read, and a frank look at the Department of Health's restaurant ratings. 

Reading this email is highly informative. It's a mixture of pathetic, hilarious, disappointing and mild shock. It's also a source of gossip, and a Hall of Shame for the restaurant scene, so important information for consumers.

The format is almost always the same: Manhattan offenders listed first, Brooklyn and then Queens. Each description includes the name of the restaurant, the street address, the Violation Points, and a list of the official offenses. They can be regarding sanitation, food temperatures, licensing, handling, vermin and insects present, and a host of other disgusting problems. 

Occasionally I read about a restaurant that I have passed by. Once in a while there is a restaurant that I actually like that is hit with these violations. In fact, one of my favorite restaurants in lower Manhattan has been hit with violations twice in the past few years. Certainly I'm not happy about that, but I've eaten there many times and never had a problem. But yes, it does make me wary. 

This week I read about a restaurant in the Inwood section of Manhattan, the northernmost neighborhood of the borough, on Broadway and West 207th Street. This eatery earned 102 points. That's pretty darn awful. Gruesome, in fact. Some of the other restaurants cited in this week's dispatch earned 40-something, 50-something points, and one over 90. 

What happens to these stricken eateries? Usually they close temporarily and then get a chance to clean up their act. In the process of doing so, they get a sign to post in the window that reads "Grade Pending." But sometimes restaurants just cannot hack it, and they close down.

There is a legendary pizzeria in my neighborhood that has been hit with violations several times over the years. I think the last time I ate there was in 1979 or 1980, and I didn't like it then. Despite the times it has been closed and cleaned up, and the fact that it charges more than $5 for a regular pizza slice, it is included in some food guides as a "must eat." Blah. But it goes to show that these ratings have a limited impact in some cases.

If you want to learn more about the NYC Department of Health restaurant ratings, it's easily accessed online here.

You can also read the weekly ratings and get a laugh or groan. If you are a consumer, it does offer guidance to you. If you are the offending parties, well, clean up, buddies. 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 12, 2019 21:45

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