The Post has more on the shuttering of La Esquina’s basement — owner Derek Sanders says the Department of Buildings “wrote a series of violations all citing the new 2008 building code, even though our building has always fallen under the older code” and says the situation will “take days to resolve, at the very least.” Georgette Fleischer, a neighbor who called 311 about the outdoor café as well as smoke-venting issues, says, “The restaurant owners are acting like barbarians and playing fast and loose with safety issues.” Meanwhile, La Esquina and Kenmare (an object of SLA interest) aren’t the only Petrosino Square establishments that have come under city scrutiny recently.
A tipster tells Grub Street that on April 28, La Esquina’s neighbor across the way, Café Select, was “raided.” Owner Oliver Stumm says that although city officials visit his restaurant on a weekly basis to check up on smoking and every other conceivable (non-)issue (we hear the same neighbor has a knack for calling 311 on Café Select as well), this latest visit was not a raid and was merely a routine inspection from the Health Department. Whatever you want to call it, that inspection resulted in 103 violation points (anything above 28 requires a follow-up inspection), including vague citations such as “facility design” and “nuisance created or allowed to exist. Facility not free from unsafe, hazardous offensive or annoying condition,” as well as one “other general violation.”
Last week, before the La Esquina incident, Stumm told Grub Street, “We’ve hired a health-inspection expert to deal with the issues of the usual violations that you get when you have a health-inspection report — it’s no big deal.” However, he admits: “Cafe Select had some troubles with the authorities, regarding issues about private events and so forth — we are working together with our consultants and the authorities to be sure that everything we do is up to code, and the health inspection affects us in a way that we’re on a much higher alert that we don’t do anything that would make them unhappy, whatever that might be.”
Safe to say this will muffle the party scene at Café Select for the foreseeable future. “Right now we’re being extremely sensitive and careful about these facts so we don’t run into trouble,” says Stumm. “We know these authorities are very powerful.”
Hot spot is taco shelved [NYP]