Believe me friends, it gives me no joy to report this, but news is news and Jews love nothing more than a sanitary toilet. The New York Times is reporting today that 7th Ave’s famous Stage Delicatessen has been closed by New York’s health department for violation including vermin (that’s rats and roaches folks), since last weekend.
A favorite tourist stop in Midtown Manhattan, the deli was closed on Friday afternoon. Paul Zolenge, co-owner of the delicatessen, said he hoped to re-open on Monday.
In a statement, the Health Department said it had inspected the deli last Wednesday and found multiple health violations. It allowed the deli to remain open while it corrected the worst violations and “then gave the deli 48 hours to correct the remaining outstanding issues.”
But on Friday, the department said, the Stage Deli was “once again found to be operating with repeat, severe health violations and was consequently closed.”
Sadly, this is a repeat offense for the Stage Deli, who two years ago was shut down for other violations.
I’m not going to sugar coat this, though I won’t overreact either. One of the most disgusting experiences of my deli life was turning my head at a Manhattan deli (one that I’ll never write about) and seeing a cockroach by my face. Let’s face it folks, New York is a dirty place. But I’ve also had rats run across my toes in the toniest enclaves of the Upper West Side. What I’m saying is, rats in cities like New York, Rome, or Paris are commonplace, as are roaches. Do I want them in my food? No! Do I want them near my food? Hell no! Do I expect restaurants to do their best? Absolutely! Do I think New York kitchens are surgical theaters? Definitely not.
I do however like the solution proposed by a commenter on the website Gothamist:
There will always be vermin in NYC. Where do we think they go when we seal up our holes and cracks? They’re still around. What restaurants need to do is construct their own little custom mouse doors, equipping them like car washes so that when the mice go through them they get washed down and disinfected! Then by the time they’re in the restaurant they’re actually cleaner than the staffers. They could even fit the mice with tiny little antibacterial slippers, so that as they ran around on the counters, they’d actually be cleaning the place up. They could leave Listerine-injected pieces of cheese around, so that their tiny little mouths would get disinfected while they eat, and then when the mice get into the cutlery and lick the greasy spoons clean, they’d be doing everyone a favor.
One just needs to be clever!
The health department in New York has been cracking down hard this year, after a nasty incident where rats were running around a Taco Bell like it was an audition for “Ratatouille 2: A Mexican-American Tale”. With news media howling over the filth, the health department went a bit crazy and took it out on delis hanging salamis in their windows. Now, I’m not equating the Stage’s closure with this at all. They have violated before, they were warned last week, and they will now hopefully fix the problem and return to business shortly. Whether customers will return remains to be seen, though the size of Stage’s sandwiches may prove to be more of a health hazard than what’s in the basement.