BROOKLYN (VINnews/Sandy Eller) – A kosher café located on the outer perimeter of Brooklyn’s red zone has been inundated with both communal support and customers after being slapped with a violation notice from a city inspector despite being open for takeout only.
The owner of Mixed Greens Mixed Greens Café, who asked to identified only as Mike, said that an undercover inspector entered his café on Tuesday afternoon at approximately 3:30 and asked if he could sit down for a meal at the eatery, located in Gravesend at the corner of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue V.
“I told him that we had no dine in and he sat down to write up his report and told me he would talk to me once he was done,” Mike told VIN News.
Realizing that the was being slapped with a summons, Mike pulled out his phone and began taking video, where he can be heard saying, “You know, I’m struggling here every single day. It’s hard for me and there was nobody inside the store obviously, because we don’t have dine in, we only have takeout. There was nobody in the store and I’m only getting a ticket because my door was open,” with the inspector replying, “In the red zone, you’re only supposed to do pickup and delivery at the door.”
There was no monetary fine listed on the summons, just a January 20th court date.
I’ll be supporting this restaurant by picking up lunch here tomorrow. I welcome my friends and constituents to join me by ordering your lunch (as takeout!) from Mixed Greens Cafe, located at 2486 Coney Island Avenue.https://t.co/Teee1IcLjl https://t.co/hAt25HEpm9— Councilman Deutsch (@ChaimDeutsch) October 21, 2020
The video was shared on social media by City Councilman Chaim Deutsch who tweeted, “Why would anyone want to open a business in NYC?? A café in our district today received a summons for having their doors open! They were adhering to the law by banning indoor/outdoor dining, & they were only open for takeout. That wasn’t enough for this misinformed inspector.”
Deutsch said that he reviewed a copy of the summons, which said that the eatery was violating the red zone guidelines by failing “to keep the door closed for pedestrian traffic” and allowing “customers to order at the point of sale about 24 feet inside the entrance.” After looking over city restrictions on red zone restaurants and finding no mention of open doors, Deutsch contacted the Department of Health for further clarification and was told they would review the regulations and get back to him, a response that didn’t sit well with the councilman.
“The Department of Health is an agency that worked with other agencies to put together the guidelines,” said Deutsch. “If they couldn’t answer this question seven months after COVID first started and the previous lockdown, how is anyone supposed to know what the guidelines are?”
Deutsch reached out to Mayor Bill de Blasio on his cell phone to discuss the incident and after receiving no response, he tweeted Mike’s video. As of Wednesday morning, the video had 242,000 views and had been retweeted by Acting Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, who commented “Unbelievable!”
Deutsch is planning to be at Mixed Greens to pick up lunch this afternoon, and the café has had so many people coming in to show their support that they posted a sign this morning expressing their gratitude bearing the words “while we are trying our very best to accommodate all orders, we apologize if we have run out of certain items due to last minute responses to our situation. We are amazed by your kindness and ask you to please continue to support small businesses in our neighborhood.” According to Deutsch, Mixed Greens received one phone order from Minnesota, with the caller asking that the food be given to the next four people who walked into the store.
Deutsch, who has many constituents living in the red zone, said that he has yet to receive a call back from the Department of Health or de Blasio and that of two calls place to the mayor last week, he has received only one response so far, from a staffer asking for further clarification.
I have three zip codes in red zone,” said Deutsch. “You would think they would be calling me every day to see what they can do to get the numbers down.”
Deutsch expressed his disappointment in what seems to be a culture of penalizing small businesses, which he described as the backbone of New York City.
“It is unconscionable that the city and state are continuing to harass small business owners, already struggling to survive due to the COVID shutdowns,” observed Deutsch. “Thousands of businesses have been forced to permanently shut their doors, and many others are on the brink. Instead of the local government directing resources to support these businesses, they are instead pursuing bogus violations and petty fines against them. Shameful and despicable behavior from local agencies.”