Save the Deli

Stage Deli (NY) closed by health inspector

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 ôthen gave the deli 48 hours to correct the remaining outstanding issues.ö

But on Friday, the department said, the Stage Deli was ôonce again found to be operating with repeat, severe health violations and was consequently closed.ö

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.

42 Responses to “Stage Deli (NY) closed by health inspector”

  1. Irwin Says:

    In this case as in the “MAJORITY” of others re: Rodent/Insect Infestations the Food Service operator gets the citation but the problems are caused by extenuating circumstances.

    Generally it’s the landlords, municipalities who are doing renovations or construction in the area that lead to infestation being caused everywhere in immediate areas.

    In other parts of the world it’s customary to try to remove this problem before beginning construction or alterations because they are aware that it easily gets out of control.

    It should be a obligation of NYC Health Department to give citations to property owners since majority of Restaurants take up only a minor square feet of the buildings where they are located.

    In no way is the Restaurant the only part of the property infested, even though they may be the only tenants forced to try to control the situation..

    Eradication or control can only be achieved more then superficially by blaming the Restaurants for being responsible.

    Wonder how NYC Health Dept would deal with Cockroaches that are capable of flying every where like in Hawaii and the tropics where it becomes a fact of life during the breeding season.

    It was awesome being in Hong Kong during the Airport/Harbor Construction where every place nearby was subject to Rats almost as big as Cats swarming everywhere looking for places to hide, even driving at night or parking a car nearby made you vulnerable to running them over or having them try to nest in your engine.

    In Buddest areas of Asia Rats are treated with respect when they help clear off food dropped from tables while people are eatting a meal at a Restaurant. Now that is real creepy when they are also guests. It’s a big joke when westerners get all upset..

  2. Scott Greenwald Says:

    While the comments pulled from Gothamist were cute, the first statement is not completely true: “Where do we think they go when we seal up our holes and cracks?” Well, that would depend. Did you seal up the hole with the rodents still inside? If so, there’s a possibility, an unfortunate one for the animal (and PETA, please forgive me), that it will die in its new home.
    Speaking of the STAGE, my father owned the Deli for some years with the two partners mentioned on http://www.stagedeli.com, on the HISTORY page. I remember seeing the basement once, as a pre-teen. The steps down to the basement were slimy, and that scared me half to death… the whole look and feel of it gave me the creeps (having never seen the basement of a restaurant before), but it’s not so different than those of most eateries that are housed in an old building.

    Four years ago, my father and I got involved with LIFE CAFE, of “RENT” fame in the East Village. Upon our arrival, the place was overrun by vermin. As the original owner–our partner–had opened another location in Brooklyn, and spent most of her time there, good management and an eye for health issues went somewhat by the wayside till we got there. After one particularly nasty visit from the Health Department (which has become quite a racket, by the way), I started a major overhaul of the whole property.

    The building is over 100 years old, I’m told, and it exists on what old maps of NYC show to be the edge of a marsh, and a 10th St Canal. (The rest of “Alphabet City” was built on landfill, filling in the marsh!) The building is settling, and the walls begin to disconnect from their adjoining floors, creating cracks. As pests push their way inside, they make more comfortable entryways for themselves. More of them can come and go, and they breed. But to breed, they need safe haven in the place they’ve entered. If it’s not already existing as a hole, they’ll try to create one. That’s why older buildings are more vulnerable… it’s easier for the pests to find refuge.

    But once they’ve established themselves, it’s not actually that difficult to get rid of them. All it takes is a working knowledge of how various pests operate, finding their hideout, effectively sealing it, and keeping an eye on it. I’m told that some exterminators will shove some ground-up shards of glass in a mouse or rat hole, and THEN seal it up with concrete, or some such substance. The pest gets hungry, if it can’t escape from the hole in another way, and actually eats the glass, killing itself. I’ve found that simply sealing the hole is enough. If it’s a good seal, the pest can’t escape. It simply dies there.

    But we had house flies, because one of our kitchen staff weren’t rotating the potatoes. So what happened? They were breeding in an old rotten one. These are the crazy, inane and stupid things that one has to worry about in the restaurant industry. In fact, it goes way beyond that when you’re talking about the Health Department. We once had an inspector notice that we were missing some tiles on our kitchen floor. The tile cement was acting as our floor in those spots. There were about 5 of those tiles missing. We were fined $200.

    For the most part, I think that the presence of the Dept of Health is a positive force, a definite motivator. In restaurants, you need to cut costs whereever you can (just look at the bathrooms in so many places… it’s not necessarily that they’re dirty… they’re just so unmaintained and simple!). It really does take more than simply knowing that you have pests to want to get rid of them. When it hits you in the pocket, and reputation, you take action.
    I’m honestly surprised that it’s taken the STAGE this long to really get on top of their problems, but then again, maybe I don’t really know the scope of their situation.

    But I’d love to help them, or any other restaurant suffering with these things. I’ve discovered that I can’t spend my whole life at a restaurant and expect a happy home life. Nor can I live a happy home life and expect a fully-functional restaurant. I believe that restaurants, deli’s included, are for the Single. So, my next business may very well be in pest prevention, for restaurants. Because no one wants to find themselves at court on John Street with the Department of Health.

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  6. Exterminator Brooklyn Says:

    Good to see they’re still back in business. Their sandwiches are amazing. :)

  7. Billy Says:

    somebody needs to investigate the NYC health dept for discrimination against whites, all they do is hire ignorate and hateful black people, I have never seen a white inspection

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