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Up in smoke: Locals steaming over Ft. Greene restaurant’s duct fire

All fired up: Adelphi Street resident Virginia Priest is fed up with her neighbor, restaurant Metta, for its constant smoke and odor that billows towards her apartment, especially after a fire inside on Tuesday.
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This restaurant needs to get its ducts in a row.

Some Fort Greeners are fuming after ventilation at a posh neighborhood eatery that cooks food over an open flame caught fire on Sept. 4, arguing the blaze is the latest — and most-alarming — incident resulting from owners’ failure to properly keep up the restaurant.

“They haven’t been maintaining it and it is a fire hazard, I’ve been saying this for nearly six months to nearly anybody who will listen,” said Virginia Priest, who lives next door to the Adelphi Street establishment. “And look what happened.”

New York’s Bravest rushed to quench the fire burning in the rooftop vent at South American-inspired bistro Metta at 3:40 pm after grease buildup inside ignited, its co-owner said, and extinguished the flames an hour later, according to a Fire Department rep.

Earlier this year, Priest and other neighbors blasted the restaurant’s owners for the noxious cloud of smoke its signature style of cooking sent wafting into their homes — but now, the stench is a minor nuisance compared to the possibility of more spontaneous combustion, another local said.

“What had been bothering me is the constant odor coming into our home,” said Chris Saporita, who lives nearby on Clermont Avenue. “Now, I’m concerned about the fire hazard.”

City regulations require Metta’s proprietor to scrub its ducts every three months, according to co-owner Henry Rich, who admitted the vent was weeks overdue for a scrub when the blaze started — but claimed the expert who told another outlet that the owners’ negligence caused the inferno didn’t mention that he failed to show up for a cleaning weeks ago.

And following the recent fire, Rich said the duct will be cleaned on a monthly basis to prevent buildup from burning up again.

“We cleaned once a quarter, but are now going to clean it every month,” he said.

The eatery’s proprietors, who opened their hip spot at the corner of Willoughby Avenue last year, also installed a contraption on the restaurant’s roof to help filter the stifling smoke that neighbors claim gives them headaches, and repositioned its chimney in order to blow the hot smelly air away from neighboring residences, Rich said.

“We’ve installed something that’s called a maxi-grill on top of the restaurant, it’s a $100,000 unit that filters out smoke,” said Rich. “And the top of the duct is now six feet above the roofline.”

Inspectors from the city’s Department of Environmental Protection scoped Metta out each time someone lodged a complaint about its excessive exhaust over the past year and a half, but have yet to slap it with any violations related to the smoke, according to Rich. A rep for the environmental-protection agency did not immediately return a request for comment regarding its inspections.

The eatery’s only violation came from the Department of Buildings, which slapped it with a $1,280 fine in April for construction work not done in accordance with filed plans, agency spokesman Andrew Rudansky said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 9:06 am, September 13, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mary from Blsq. says:
Her arms are waaaay too long.
Sept. 10, 6:58 am
Ronald from Ft Greene says:
Are you kidding me? All this restaurant got for a fire from their own negligence is a $1200 fine from the DOB? The owners must have comnections. The FDNY shut down the tire store on Fulton five years ago for having too many tires; in other words, not a fire, the possibility of a fire. Metta has a fire but stays open. The owners must donate to de Blasio.
Sept. 10, 7:55 am
Virginia from Ft Greene says:
Hello! It’s me, Virginia (the woman in the photo). And, yes! My arms look waaay too long. Almost Alien like..... oh, well. I just wanted to add two points to this story. The DEP issued THREE smoke violations against METTA, contrary to what Metta’s owner says in this article. And the DOB violation was issued for improperly installed exhaust vents....yes....the same vents that caught fire on Tuesday. We are very lucky that this fire only spread to Metta’s roof and not to neighboring buildings. Thank you, NYC Fire Department!
Sept. 10, 9:31 am
Chris Saporita from Fort Greene says:
In addition to the error that Virginia pointed out (that Metta did in fact receive three odor violations from DEP on May 9, June 19, and June 20 - this can be verified simply by calling the DEP), what Mr. Rich did not tell the reporter (but I did) is that the device they installed is designed to only control 50% of the odor, which is why we continue to be inundated with the greasy odor in our homes and on the streets. Please correct this article, and do a better job of checking and reporting all of the relevant facts that you are told in the future, Julianne.
Sept. 11, 8:59 am
Chris Saporita from Fort Greene says:
Also, I did not say that the odor was a "minor nuisance." I said that, in addition to the ongoing odor nuisance, we now have the risk of grease fires from improper maintenance of the chimney.
Sept. 11, 9:50 am
Chris Saporita from Fort Greene says:
Here is the page on website for the manufacturer of Metta's pollution control device that states that it controls 50% of odor: http://smokiusa.com/maxi_grill. It also notes that an additional odor neutralizing liquid can be used to reduce odor by 98%, but Metta has refused to do that. "The Maxi Grill reduces particulate matter including soot and grease by 95%, odor by 50% and the final vapor stream to an average temperature of 100ºF. If complete odor abatement is necessary, an additional odor neutralizing liquid can be fed inline of the water stream for 98% odor reduction."
Sept. 11, 10:46 am
Joseph from Ft.Greene says:
The DOB violation was not for improper vent/exhaust the violation reads"FOUND STEEL DUNNAGE TO BEIMBEDED IN PARAPET WALL,PLAN CALLS FOR DUNNAGE TO BE ON TOP OF PARAPET" The dunnage is what holds the exhaust device, this is public information on their website. Also contrary to popular belief, maintenance and cleaning of grease in a commercial est.is a Fire Code violation.
Sept. 11, 10:50 am

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