A Ditmas Park combination bar and flower shop known for its $10 beer-and-bouquet specials is shutting down its florist component after the health department deemed the dual-business arrangement unsanitary, management said.
The Brooklyn-based Sycamore bar was forced to shut down by the health department on June 26 for violations including failing to vermin-proof the establishment and the presence of fruit flies near food. And while it's been cleaned up and permitted to reopen since then, its owners have said the flower shop cannot reopen in its current layout.
Normally, bars do not fall under the health department's jurisdiction (they are instead regulated by the State Liquor Authority), but Sycamore had been running its Flatbush Food Court, a daily pop-up program for independent food vendors, out of its garden.
The food court is now discontinued until further notice.
The boutique flower shop Stems has also been selling flowers by the stem out of the same location as Sycamore bar since the business opened at 1118 Courtelyou Rd. in 2008, according to management.
Health inspectors registered concerns about the cross-contamination of food and flowers on the premises, DOH spokeswoman Stephanie Buhle said in a statement.
Inspectors discovered flowers and food stored in the same refrigerator and took issue with the business' layout, which required workers to access the flower shop's storage through "the kitchen," Buhle said.
During their last visit in January, "a ‘flower shop operation’ was not observed," she added.
Sycamore has since complied with Health Department demands by addressing the fruit fly problem, removing the "illegal" sink and tap system in its backyard garden area and closing its flower shop component, but it objects to the agency's citations for potential cross-contamination: "There is absolutely no food prepared or stored by Sycamore," management said in an email to amNewYork. "We do not have a kitchen."
"The coexistence of the flower shop and bar is suddenly a little too cozy in the eyes of the great city of New York," the bar wrote in a Facebook post addressed to neighbors Tuesday, a day after the business was temporarily closed.
But the health department said Monday that Sycamore could address its concerns about a fridge containing both food and flowers and the need for flowers shop employees to travel through a food-prep area without shuttering its flowers shop. Sycamore is currently in the process of a applying for a restaurant permit from the Health Department, according to the agency, which puts its operations under the scrunity of the city's health code. The code classified beverages as "food."
In a statement announcing its reopening Thursday, Sycamore thanked the vendors for their edible contributions to the Ditmas Park community and affirmed its determination to reopen the Stems flower shop.
"We are working with our elected officials, Small Business Services, FDC, [the] Community Board, and others in a concerted effort to reopen the flower shop. It's been part of our identity since we opened in 2008, and we'll diligently pursue all available resources and collaborate with authorities in hopes of making Sycamore whole again," management said. The bar's website encourages customers to contact city councilman Mathieu Eugene's office to advocate for Stems' return.
Eugene posted on the bar's Facebook page the day after the bar temporarily closed, writing, "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. My office is currently looking into resolving this issue."
For now, Stems continues to operate out of a studio space, where the business is taking and filling deliver orders and completing special event assignments.