C Grade Persists

Worst Dept. of Health Restaurant Grade on Roosevelt Island? Café at Cornell Tech

Updated 30 weeks ago David Stone
Shared entrance for the Bloomberg Center at Cornell Tech.
Shared entrance for the Bloomberg Center at Cornell Tech.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

With its bright, clean look, friendly ambience and pride of place at Cornell Tech, the popular café is unlikely to be your first guess as having the worst NYC DOH restaurant grade on Roosevelt Island. But to the surprise of many, it does, and the contest's not close.

Every restaurant venue on Roosevelt Island, from the limited specialty shop at Bubble Cool to the Subway most of us don't know about inside Coler Hospital, grades out as A, meeting the highest health standards on inspection.

The café at Cornell Tech hasn't been able to earn even a B. The first letter grade management posted, after being cited for a failure to do so, is a C.

Worst Dept. of Health Restaurant Grade on Roosevelt Island? Café at Cornell Tech
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And in case you're wondering, their scores have gotten progressively worse, not better. 

(Click here to check grades for any restaurant in New York City. Enter zip code 10044 to see all ratings for Roosevelt Island.)

It's counterintuitive for those of us who've enjoyed our time there and for others who came just for innovative events like grilling on the 4th of July.

But as multiple readers pointed out, it's a fact, improbable as it may seem.

"Maybe it's just me, but they have had decent tasting food but seem to be clueless about how
to prepare & serve it," one reader who's taken the DOH Food Handlers Course wrote.

"And frequently resistant to suggestions for improvement," she added.

On January 25th, the café got their first score on a DOH inspection that found these violations: 

1) Hot food item not held at or above 140º F.
2) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
3) Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.
4) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
5) Food contact surface not properly maintained.
6) Accurate thermometer not provided in refrigerated or hot holding equipment.

The first three are critical violations, according to DOH. Altogether, they collected 31 points in violations. 28 or more earns a C.

DOH returned for another inspection on March 16th. The number of specific violations was fewer, but the score got worse: 33. At that point, the C rating became official.

2018 Grades for all Roosevelt Island restaurants.
2018 Grades for all Roosevelt Island restaurants.
Source: New York City Department of Health

Six months later, DOH inspected again. The grade, surprisingly, got worse: 37, with these violations...

1) Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.
2) Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
3) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.

The first two are critical, and the café was also cited for neglecting to post their C rating as required by law.

According to a visitor on Friday, it's now posted for all to see.

Jarring as it may be, the only public dining experience on one of the most advanced university campuses in the world can't satisfy the Department of Health while every other venue in the neighborhood, large or small, is able to.

It's an anomaly from any perspective.

For more on how the New York City Department of Health develops scores, Click Here.

 

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