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Door jam! Baker hit with summons for leaving her entrance open

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A Bay Ridge baker left the door to her 87th Street sweetshop open to lure in customers with her sugary treats — but instead attracted a city health inspector who slammed her with a citation for her illegal open-door policy.

The Health Department investigator summonsed Ivy Bakery owner Daniellan Louie on April 29 for allegedly violating health code section 81, subsection 23 — which specifically requires “all openings into the outer air be effectively screened and self-closing … to prevent the access by insects and other pests.”

But Louie claims she’s never had bug problems — and will fight the city’s attempt to force her to bar her door.

“I open the door because I don’t have any ventilation,” said Louie. “When I’m baking, it’s about 100 degrees with the doors closed. It’s hard to breathe.”

The open door isn’t just a means of cooling the Ivy Bakery — it’s also a needed form of advertising for the shop, which offers a wide array of cupcakes, pastries and pies.

“When I have the door open, I have people coming in from blocks away saying they can smell the brownies and the cookies that I’m making,” said Louie, whose shop is on a side street away from the hustle and bustle of Third Avenue. “When I have the door closed, I have fewer customers.”

Louie — who was also cited for not wearing a hair net — claims the violation is unfair because so many other eateries keep their doors open.

“There are pizzerias, delis, and butchers that all have their doors open all the time,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Other Brooklyn bakers agree that open doors are a common — and eco-friendly — way to cool their stifling storefronts and attract customers.

“In this energy conscious era, you’d think it would be okay to keep the door open instead of using the air conditioner,” said Eric Goetze, owner of Blue Sky Bakery on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. “It seems like an outdated rule.”

Despite the baker’s objections, the city says it’s an open and shut case when it comes to doors.

“Health Code requires all openings to a food service establishment ... prevent the entry of pests that may contaminate food,” said Department of Health spokeswoman Erin Brady. “Any food service establishment in violation of this requirement will be cited upon inspection.”

This is hardly the first time that local businesses have gotten hit where it hurts — the wallet — from the enforcement of obscure city ordinances.

Last December, a new pet shop in Clinton Hill almost screwed the pooch when the Department of Sanitation unloaded 116 tickets on it for illegal fliers.

The same agency also snared merchants for deploying A-frame signs more than three feet into the sidewalk.

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Reader Feedback

sid from boerum hill says:
Councilmember Yassky got some of the A frame signs dismissed. But A frames more than 3 feet from the Building do block the sidewalks which are crowded enough....

All the Bakery needs to do is install a light screen door. The reason they do this is that bugs carry germs and it is better to be safe than sorry...
yes she hasn't seen bugs.....yet.
May 7, 2009, 10:15 am
sid from Boerum Hill says:
and the law that prevents anyone from posting signs of city property(light polls) is hardly obscure. There is a reason the light polls don't have three hundred signs on them...
You can't stick them on car windows either but you can distribute them door to door unless their is a sign saying no flyers...
May 7, 2009, 10:22 am
Charles from Brooklyn says:
This is a perfect example of the city's continuing effort to sqeeze small businesses, making it difficult for them to operate and prosper. When it comes to big box stores, there are tax abatements, land grabs, extra police protection, etc ... But when it is the small guy, or girl, there is just a "take as much as we can from them" attitude. This is what we get for voting in politicans who protect the very wealthy at the expense of the middle class. This city is drowning the middle class business people, and it should stop. If the city really cared, they would issue warnings on violations before they started ticketing for a few dollars more.
May 7, 2009, 10:54 am
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
Charles from Brooklyn says: "This is a perfect example of the city's continuing effort to sqeeze small businesses, making it difficult for them to operate and prosper. When it comes to big box stores, there are tax abatements, land grabs, extra police protection, etc .."

Oh, STOP already!

This is a TERRIFIC bakery; love it.
But objectively speaking -- open, unscreened doors et in insects. Delis, pizza places, et al shouldn't be allowed to go screenless, either. That's despite the fact that (unlike bakeries) those places store all/most food in refrig or other cases - not lightly covered or displayed, as many bakers do.

It's NOT "biz-squeezing" to require that food places block bugs, or that foodhandlers wear hairnets. It's the NYC Health Code; it applies to "big boxes" and fast-fooderies as well, and, personally, I kind of like it.
It's also not "squeezing" to bar sidewalk-blocking signs or illegal flier-posting.

If small businesses were specially exempt from the Health Code and other laws, you would NOT like the eventual, cumulative result.
May 7, 2009, 3:25 pm
maryann from chelsea says:
obscure is right. when you are in a historically preserved area they cite you for not having roll out canopies...because that is the way stores and homes kept the inside cool in the summer! meanwhile, open door policy falls to the wayside
May 7, 2009, 7:29 pm
stan from psrk slope says:
maryann from chelsea says: "they cite you for not having roll out canopies...because that is the way stores and homes kept the inside cool in the summer! meanwhile, open door policy falls to the wayside"

Because canopies still do the job, but our food and sanitary standards and expectations have improved.

There'd be negative impact plus pubic outcry if we exempted 'historic area' food purveyors from 21st century food-sanit standards.
May 8, 2009, 5:17 pm
lschneide from bay ridge says:
I won't go into an open door restaurant in warm weather. Too often, flies and gnats buzz my food.
May 9, 2009, 12:50 pm
Harry J from Bay Ridge says:
Sheesh! How hard is it to install a screen or wear a hairnet?

Problem isn't that the laws exist, but that they're not thoroughly enforced.

Bay Ridge merchants have a "specialness" issue.
The main drags are totally plagued by double-parking, but stores complained that enforcement was unfair and impeded business.
Now we're supposed to oppose public-protecting health laws, just so stores can increase foot traffic?
No, thanks!
May 9, 2009, 1:19 pm
arvid from bay ridge says:
lschneide from bay ridge says: ""I won't go into an open door restaurant in warm weather. Too often, flies and gnats buzz my food.""

And flies and gnats don't stay away away just because it's a small business.
May 9, 2009, 4:51 pm
Daniellan from Bay Ridge says:
The problem wasn't that I chose not to close my door, it was that no where was it told to me or written in starting a food establishment that the door was to remain closed. Had I had known I would have followed it, every pizzeria, bagel shop, open window cafe, butcher, diner in this area has their door propped open for fresh air. As for the hat issue, I had my hat, he caught me without it on when he walked in and I was coming back from lunch, he wanted to find anything possible to pin me for because he couldn't find anything else wrong with my shop. All I have to say is that if the city wants establishments to follow the law, then make it clearly known and easily attained to all food establishments. They clearly spent their money well on telling us about trans fats and calorie listings, why not a cheat sheet on all other laws regarding doors, signs, and so on when we register our businesses.
May 10, 2009, 6:53 pm
Nickjr from Bay Ridge says:
I checked the N.Y.C. Dept of Health site, presuming that this was another N.Y.C. bureaucratic ripoff.
BUT Health Code Article 81 - the food prep-serve bible - is right there, and isn't onerous [as regs go]. The no-openings reg isn't buried or in Klingon, but is clearly listed w/every other 'food establishment' must. There's as much warning re closing 'all openings to the outer air' as there is re water temps, refrig, cleaning surfaces, storage, staff hygiene, no vermin or other 'live animals,' 'must post inspection report,' EVERYTHING, including the secret lives of soda straws. [And unfortunately, the hairnet reg applies to 'all foodworkers,' so there's no real out if you're onsite.]
Whether I ran a 'food establishment,' hair salon or funeral parlor, I'd never trust a 'clean sheet' paraphrase, or assume that N.Y.C. would noodge me re details. I'd nitpick the regs, since THAT'S what N.Y.C. expects me to know [just as it 'expects' me to know traffic laws, to not build w/o a permit, to poop-scoop, and whatever].

So I have to agree w/others - problem isn't that the law exists [it's sensible], or that it's obscure [it's not], but that it's so spottily enforced as to appear unfair and be ineffective.
May 11, 2009, 1:18 pm
ricki from coney island says:
put up a screen door
April 5, 2011, 8:33 pm

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