A diner across the street from the fatal East Village building explosion got hit with an eviction notice for allegedly siphoning gas.
The Department of Buildings this week said Stage Restaurant at 128 Second Avenue, has to be out by the end of the month after the city said it “installed a device illegally and improperly siphoning gas from Con Edison and bypassing your meter,” according to the notice, published by WNYC.
The DOB said the restaurant had “illegally and dangerously altered the piping and gas lines.” The restaurant was hit with a violation classified as “immediately hazardous” on March 30 after an inspector saw a worker in the basement installing new gas equipment without a permit.
“Siphoning gas is illegal, very dangerous, and a violation of the building code,” a DOB spokesperson said in a statement. “In addition to issuing violations, the department will notify Con Edison if inspectors detect illegally tapped gas lines while conducting a site visit.”
The blast that killed two people on March 26 had occurred just days before the violation to Stage Restaurant was issued. Con Ed had shut the building’s gas off and locked the pipe, according to DOB. The gas will be turned back on when the landlord addresses the fines and the violations, according to the notice.
A call to Stage Restaurant was not answered.
Joseph Goldsmith, a lawyer for the landlord, sided with the city, saying that the restaurant was “trying to cover up the siphoning that they had previously done and the Department of Buildings went for an unnanounced inspection and caught them in the act.”
Goldsmith said the landlord is waiting for gas use records and pictures that a DOB inspector had taken during the visit.
“We believe when they get that information it’ll show that the gas usage for the Stage Restaurant was far below what it should be for an establishment of this type,” Goldsmith said.