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NYC Health Department Resumes ‘Modified’ Inspections of Restaurants and Bars

Plus, two new fundraisers support small businesses and independent restaurants in Chinatown — and more intel

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The blue letter grade of a NYC Health Department inspection is posted to a restaurant window. The Detroit City Council rejected a proposal Tuesday that would have required restaurants to post a color-coded sign to inform diners of the results of their health department inspections. Sorbis/Shutterstock

NYC health inspectors are making the rounds at restaurants with ‘modified’ check-ins

The New York City department of health has brought back a “modified” version of its restaurant and bar inspections, according to the NYC Hospitality Alliance, a group that represents thousands of local restaurants. The inspections process has been slightly adapted for the COVID-19 pandemic and will primarily check for conditions most associated with food-borne illness, pest conditions, and compliance with the city’s COVID-19 guidelines. Inspections themselves will be slightly shorter, and restaurants will be notified about the timeframe of an upcoming inspection ahead of time.

The goal of the inspections is to educate, rather than punish restaurants and bars, according to the NYC Hospitality Alliance, though the city’s enforcement of outdoor drinking and outdoor dining guidelines so far may be reason for pause. City inspectors have been instructed to educate restaurant owners before issuing summonses or letter grades. If hazardous conditions are observed in the restaurant, however, or if restaurant staff interfere with the inspection, city officials can issue summonses, temporarily close the restaurant, or take further action. The NYC department of health will notify restaurants before resuming normal inspections.

Two Chinatown fundraisers support small business owners and restaurants

Many restaurants in Chinatown are now open for outdoor dining, though that pivot took slightly longer than other parts of the city, given that the neighborhood was among the hardest hit by the pandemic early on.

To support Chinatown’s reopening, local residents and small business owners have organized fundraisers for historic and newly opened restaurants in the neighborhood. Joanne Kwong, owner of the city’s historic Pearl River Mart, is selling a new line of street-wear and merchandise that features artwork from Chinatown institutions like Jing Fong, Hop Kee, Nom Wah, Kopitiam, Fong On, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, and Xi’an Famous Foods. The merch collection can be purchased at Pearl River Mart or from its online store, with 100 percent of proceeds going to participating restaurants.

Separately, local group Send Chinatown Love is organizing a neighborhood food crawl for the month of September to highlight reopened restaurants, bakeries, and cafes in the neighborhood.

In other news

— The city’s food halls continue to expand their outdoor dining options. Malibu Farm and Cobble and Co. have reopened for outdoor dining at the Seaport District, according to a spokesperson for the development. Meanwhile, Chelsea Market has set-up more than 115 outdoor tables to support its 17 vendors that are open for takeout and outdoor dining right now.

— On Wednesday, August 26, Harlem restaurants will host a neighborhood food crawl. The $25 tickets include one appetizer and one cocktail from each of the eight participating restaurants, which include Lolo’s Seafood Shack and Vinateria.

— Another Michelin-starred restaurant has opened its doors for outdoor dining in New York City. The one-star Bâtard is now open for takeout and delivery from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and outdoor dining starts an hour later than that. Reservations available.

— Francesca Cheney’s vegan cafe Sol Sips has moved to a new location at 276 Knickerbocker Avenue, across from Maria Hernandez Park, open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily. On August 26, the restaurant will unveil a new vegan nacho dish, made with refried beans and coconut-based cheese.

— Parcelle, the Manhattan wine shop and hospitality group behind Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones, is teaming up with Soho’s West-bourne on California wine and snack bundles. Deliveries available to New York City, Long Island, and Connecticut.

— Caracas Arepa Bar is hiring a dishwasher to work 30 to 35 hours a week at its Williamsburg restaurant, located at 291 Grand Street, between Havemeyer and Roebling Streets. Direct message the restaurant on Instagram to apply.

— Outdoor diners are supposed to wear masks except when they’re eating or drinking. But nobody does.

— *Sobs*: