Better measure some handcuffs for Dr. Claw.
The Department of Health has stuffed the notorious seafood sandwich peddler, threatening to put him in jail if he continued to serve lobster rolls out of his Greenpoint kitchen.
“Shut me down — booo,” Claw said via text on Tuesday afternoon, hours after he’d returned to his Greenpoint apartment to find a notice pasted to his door from the Department of Health ordering “Dr. Claw dba The Lobstah Pushah” to “immediately close and cease and desist from operating any food service establishment at these premises.”
The city accused Claw of violating health codes by operating a food establishment and delivering sandwiches to customers — and if the Health Department moves ahead with charges, Claw could face fines and imprisonment.
Dressed in a black-and-red hooded sweatshirt with a Boston Bruins hat and a blinged-out lobster claw chain, Claw had been making and selling delicious Maine lobster sandwiches for a hungry and demanding clientele for several months.
Customers could only get his fruits of the sea by friending Claw through Facebook, and if they passed a security check, they would be permitted to place an order for his lobster rolls. Claw would then roll up in a black SUV and drop off the order at a predetermined location or simply bring the sandwiches out to a customer parked around the corner.
The news has distressed his many fans, including Connecticut-based filmmaker Nick Verbitsky, who hoped to develop a television series based on underground chefs.
“I’d love to speak with him as soon as possible to document what he’s going through,” said Verbitsky. “It’s a disgrace. People are going to great lengths to get this food. There’s got to be a way around this. Doesn’t the city have anything better to do?”
Claw has only sent us that one text, but in an e-mail to his customers, he vowed to continue boiling, de-shelling and mayonnaising crustaceans in some form or another.
“[Imprisonment] seems a little harsh for lobster rolls,” said Claw. “But the Doctor thanks you for all the support and for taking part in the operation for as long as it lasted. Dr. Claw will be conducting business as best he can from his jail cell until further notice.”
Late on Wednesday, the Health Department confirmed its demand that Dr. Claw cease his tasty operations until he obtains “a proper food-safety certificate” and operates at a commercial kitchen.
“Food that is not prepared in a Department-approved establishment by a person who has not taken the food-protection course poses a serious health hazard, putting people at high-risk for food-related illness,” an agency spokeswoman said.