When Superstorm Sandy arrived, 17-year-old Okan Boluk was on his own. He parked under the 1-95 overpass to check on his family’s Kimbery Avenue pizza restaurant. He began to slosh his way down the avenue. The water was over his knees by the time he reached McDonald’s, three storefronts from Townhouse Pizza. He never made it.
Instead, he called his parents, who at the time were in Giresun on the Black Sea coast in Turkey. He told them he didn’t know what to do.
“Close the store and go home,” said his dad, Metin.
Two weeks and nearly $10,000 worth of discarded dough, chicken, and steaks later, the small family business, Townhouse Pizza, is coming back, slowly.
City health inspectors have spent much of their time supervising and certifying the tossing out of spoiled food and guiding eateries to reopen since the storm. They administered only 28 inspections between Oct. 29 and Nov. 14. Of those, 27 passed, and one failed.
That one turned out to be Townhouse Pizza. But not not because the Boluks failed to follow the supervised discarding of steaks, pizza dough, pastrami, a total of $10,000 in lost product, estimated Okan.
“I threw out all the dough, the dressings, chicken, chicken breasts, my steak, pastrami, ham. We started from scratch,” he said.
When sanitarian Roslyn Hamilton returned on Nov. 5 for a pre-reopening inspection she found paper towels missing at the hand sink, a microwave that needed a wiping, a slice of cheesecake left in the freezer, among other relatively common violations; none were storm-related. Townhouse Pizza scored 79 out of 100, just missing the 80 needed to pass.
“We’re taking care of all that stuff,” said Metin Boluk in a telephone interview.
In the meantime business, which reopened Nov. 5, is slowly returning to normal, said Ermine Boluk, who has been running the restaurant with her family for six years. “Closed one week, everybody goes someplace [else],” she said.
Still, with cold refrigerators optimistically stocked with all new meats and breads and 16 cases of Pepsi being delivered the other morning, the Boluks were planning for a full comeback. They did improve their act: Monday they passed reinspection with an 87.
City sanitarians inspect all of New Haven’s restaurants, groceries, bars, and any establishment that serves food between one and four times a year. Establishments that score less than 80 usually have two weeks to make the recommended corrections. The health department can close a restaurant regardless of its score if the sanitarians suspect an immediate danger to public health.
Following are the results of the latest inspections.
The following received passing grades:
11/01/2012: The Quinnipiack Club, 221 Church St., Score: 80; Golden China, 40 Kimberly Ave., Score: 87;
11/02/2012: Deja Vu’s Bar and Restaurant, 50 Fitch St., Score: 96
11/04/2012: H&S, 306 Whalley Ave., Score: 94
11/05/2012: Un Rinconcito De Mexico, 48 Middletown Ave., Score: 97; Trumbull Dining Hall, 215 Elm St., Score: 87; Tropical Krust, 240 Kimberly Ave., Score: 98; Popeyes, 317 Kimberly Ave., Score: 97
11/06/2012: Blue State Coffee, 84 Wall St., Score: 90;
11/07/2012: Diesel Lounge, 944 State St., Score: 92;
11/09/2012: Saybrook Dining Hall, 255 York St., Score: 85; Branford Dining Hall, 255 York St., Score: 86; Corner Grocery Mini Mart, 148 Rosette St., Score: 88; Annies Deli, 188 Rosette St., Score: 87; Sage American Bar & Grille, 100 South Water St., Score: 89
11/13/2012: Sam Tobacco & Variety Store, 269 Dixwell Ave., Score: 91; India Palace Restaurant, 65 Howe St., Score: 84; Nicas Market, 603 Orange St., Score: 86; Carmen Anthony Steakhouse, 660 State St., Score: 85; Abate Appiza & Seafood, 129 Wooster St., Score: 85
11/14/2012: Minore’s Meats, Score: 89; Berkeley Dining Hall, 201 Elm St., Score: 88; Durfee Sweet Shoppe, 200 Elm St., Score: 90; Collado Restaurant Corp, 698 Washington Ave., Score: 91; Truman School, 114 Truman St., Score: 98; B & M Quality Deli, 644 Ferry St., Score: 94; Boat House Cafe, 307 Front St., Score: 88
The One Needing Improvement
From Oct. 29 to Nov. 14 period, the following failed its inspection:
246 Kimberly Ave
Due: 2 Weeks
• Chocolate and cheese cake slices in freezer—condemned
• Missing thermometer in beer coolers
• Chicken breasts in case stored over pizza dough
• Taped refrigerator shelf storing salad dressing—remove
• Missing paper towels at hand sink
• Floor tiles broken
• Medicine on food storage shelf—corrected
• Fruit flies
• Inside microwave not clean
• Missing labels on plastic squirt bottles
• Outside of squirt bottles not clean