Protesting grades is so hot right now (see Common Core protests).
The Department of Health shuttered the Strand Smokehouse in Astoria last week after the restaurant refused to undergo an inspection, according to a statement on the Broadway barbecue joint’s website.
“We have been temporarily shut down by the Department of Health,” says a statement on the Strand’s website. “This is not for any health violations but because we rejected inspection by a health inspector.”
According to DNAinfo, owner Tommy Vasilis said he refused the inspection last summer to protest what he sees as unfair grading policies.
“There are more and more closures happening, which is bad in today’s economy,” Vasilis told DNAinfo. “We’re at their mercy.”
Vasilis told DNAinfo that health inspectors came to one of the bakeries he owns, called Bakeway NYC, located two doors down from the Strand. Vasilis said he questioned why both locations needed to be checked at once.
The Health Department told DNAinfo that Vasilis used profane language and then threw a bag at them and told the inspector to leave, a charge Vasilis denies. The police were reportedly called during the argument, although no formal complaint was filed.
The fight led to a legal battle between Vasilis and the Department of Health, and eventually the Strand and both Bakeway NYC locations (there’s another location on 30th Avenue in Astoria) were shut down on April 28.
The Health Department has had several high-profile incidents involving inspections lately. First, Michelin-rated restaurant Per Se received a C grade, and the famed Cronut-makers Dominique Ansel Bakery was temporarily shuttered in April due to an alleged mouse infestation.