Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Stage Goes Dark Again

For the second time in two years, New York's Stage Delicatessen has been closed temporarily for health violations. According to the New York City Health Department, "multiple violations" – including a "severe vermin infestation" – were found during an inspection of the restaurant on Wednesday, March 12th. The Stage was allowed to remain open for 48 hours while it corrected the infractions. But upon reinspection on March 14th, several violations remained, and the restaurant was closed.

The Stage Deli, a New York icon, had a previous run-in with City health authorities in 2006. The restaurant was cited for several violations, including live roaches, a malfunctioning refrigerator, inadequate garbage storage and food stored at improper temperatures.

Increasingly, consumers have the ability to vote with their feet on restaurant sanitation issues. New York City maintains a web site for consumers to search for the latest inspection scores of their favorite restaurants. Harris County, TX (Houston area) instituted a similar service last month.

Many municipal and county health offices in the US and Canada require restaurants to post their inspection score in a conspicuous place in the establishment. And the UK's Food Standards Agency is moving in the direction of a nationwide "Scores on Doors" scheme to make inspection scores easily available to restaurant patrons.

The Stage Deli will likely reopen on Monday, if it can deal with the remaining health violations. In the meantime, corned beef and pastrami afficionados will find Carnegie's – which was last closed for health violations in 2004 – just a block or so away.

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