Bay Ridge chef preps for food-fights with city

for The Brooklyn Paper
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A Bay Ridge chef is cooking up a fight against the city’s regime of restaurant health-codes and fines, which he says strangles a vital part of the local small-business sector.

Vincent Tropepe, who recently opened the borough’s first restaurant consulting business is in his home ’hood of Bay Ridge, said has long wanted to help fellow restaurateurs fight back against what some have called a largely arbitrary system.

“This is something that I always wanted to do” said Tropepe. “I feel that there is no foundation to what is being written during some inspections.”

Tropepe was dubbed the “American born Gordon Ramsay” by Edible magazine for his work reforming struggling restaurants — and for a forceful personality not unlike the high-volume British chef — and in his new consulting business, Tropepe will rewrite menus, redesign restaurants and write business plans.

But a large part of what Tropepe will also do is stand behind restaurant owners in the city’s court system that handles violations by restaurants and food service establishments.

Last month Mayor DeBlasio made good on a campaign promise to reform the restaurant-inspection system to reduce fines and ensure that the process focuses on keeping the public safe rather than raising revenue for the city — which had been a common complaint from restaurateurs about the process.

Tropepe was not formally involved in lobbying for the reform, but said he had several discussions with elected officials regarding the inconsistencies in fines handed down by the Health Department.

“I was vocal in demanding the change” said Tropepe. “I saw on a daily basis the effects of the system on the city’s business owners.”

In 2013 Tropepe helped fellow restaurateurs get slightly more than $300,000 in violations dismissed and help secure about $110,000 in refunds to business owners.

A few times a week Tropepe finds himself in a courtroom and going up against agencies such as the Department of Health, Environmental Control Board, and State Liquor Authority that have hit restaurants with fines and violations. Tropepe closely reviews the violations and effectively cross-examines the inspectors before the case examiner.

Tropepe has his own experience as an entrepreneurial restaurateur — in 2011 he opened his own restaurant in Bay Ridge, a French bistro called Saint Germain. He closed Saint Germain almost a year and a half ago, because he wasn’t able to expand the restaurant in that location, but when asked if he hoped to open a new eatery in the neighborhood, Tropepe simply replied “something’s brewing.”

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

R Train Rider from Bay Ridge says:
Is he from Bay Ridge?
April 4, 2014, 7 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Hey, what do you want. The so-called "inspectors" who do these city jobs are local mooks who come from a culture of predatory behavior, shakedowns, kickbacks, early retirement, and do-nothing jobs they got from Uncle Junior. By contrast, the hipster restaurateurs are bright, honest, creative, idealistic, good looking, and much better spoken and educated. It is a recipe for disaster, no pun intended. Local city culture has a long tradition of skimming and scamming. It is practically considered a virtue among locals; the guy who can work the system or shake down the storekeeper is what the mook calls "talented." And as everyone knows, talent is what gets you ahead in a city job. So go figure.
April 5, 2014, 8:32 am
Mindy Brenner from Bay Ridge, NY says:
Restaurant Saint Germain, in Bay Ridge, didn't close down because Chef Tropepe couldn't expand. It closed down because it was a poorly run establishment. As for the food, it was no more special that any other "here today & gone tomorrow" food joint.
Chef Tropepe was dubbed the “American born" Gordon Ramsay? Maybe for the arguing part, not culinary skills.
This is one puffed up article.
Jan. 15, 2016, 1:27 pm
I'm me from Bay Ridge says:
Presuming you ate at St. Germain just the one time and you didn't enjoy the experience...
Then you had ten other friends that didn't either, all that adds up to is eleven peoples right to have an opinions.
Why it actually closed...I will never know, but you couldn't either. However, knowing many restaurants across the country break their backs aiming to be successful, why not leave out your conclusion. Unless you are a proven authority on the restaurant business, like others who have the pedigree to back their opinions in mass, take the dislike down a notch. You didn't like it. I've never tried it. No matter. Drawing conclusions that disparage others, whays the goal? It makes your advice less credible actually. The fact that the date you wrote this is many years after it has been gone is a curiosity in itself.
June 16, 2017, 12:59 pm

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