A Tottenville restaurateur whose business was closed down by the Health Department is being heard in wider circles, as his complaints about the restaurant inspection system get more publicity and greater traction.
Charlie Hermansen, chef and co-owner of Cucina di Napoli, told the Staten Island Advance a couple of weeks ago that he would give up the business, basically saying he couldn’t fight City Hall.
Specifically, he couldn’t fight the part of City Hall that inspects restaurants – and rakes in city revenue from whatever infractions it can cite.
The Health Department crushed the restaurant with violations shortly after Hermansen appeared on TV saying inspectors were raking in bucks with heavy fines for minors infractions.
Presumably, that would be the end of the story. Instead, it’s the beginning.
The Gothamist and the New York Post have picked up the complaint. The head of Staten Island’s Bar and Restaurant Association told the Advance his group might file a class action lawsuit against the city to recover what he called unreasonable fines.
And the Health Department itself released statistics showing it received $42 million in fines this year – 10 percent more than last year, and 110 percent more than 2005, when it was $20 million, the Advance said.
It gives new meaning to the phrase “We want you to give 110 percent.” And it also stirs talk: However valid the health department violations may or may not be for the late, lamented Cucina di Napoli, folks are starting to wonder whether Hermansen is right about those fines.