Popular NYC diner owner says inspector made up violations after being recorded

In the classic he said/he said situation the owner of a popular New York diner, George’s, says that an restaurant inspector started making up infractions after the owner began documenting what he believed was an unfair inspection. According to the New York Post, owner Bill Koulmentas challenged some of the violations he was being cited for (including poor sanitation and temperature abuse of time/temperature control foods) and pulled out his iPhone when he felt the inspector was going to far. End result was 65 demerit points and a closure.

“They can do anything they want,” [Koulmentas] said. “Something’s out of control here. It’s lies, lies, lies.”
Koulmentas said the ordeal that prompted him to break out his cellphone camera began at about 9:30 a.m. yesterday, when Inspector Kenneth Reid began writing one trumped-up violation after another.
When the inspector crawled under a dishwasher and reported finding 13 roaches in the wall, Koulmentas said he did the same and couldn’t spot anything.

“I’ll give you $1,000 if you show me a roach,” Koulmentas protested.
Having experienced a similarly overzealous inspection a month earlier, Koulmentas said he decided to document what was happening.

Out came the iPhone.

Health Department spokesman John Kelly defended the inspection as legitimate, noting that George’s — which has been in business since 1950 — had accumulated 56 points under another inspector last month.
“The inspector recommended closing the place [back then],” reported Kelly. “The supervisor said let’s give him an opportunity to fix the problem. Basically, he caught a break.”

In August — barely five months ago — the eatery was awarded the top grade of “A.”


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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.