2007-03-09 / Front Page

Irish Circle Passes Inspection, Reopens

Health Dept. Makes Stink Over Sink, Prop. Says
By Brian Magoolaghan

Health Dept. Makes Stink Over Sink, Prop. Says

By Brian Magoolaghan

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene slapped stickers like this on the Irish Circle and temporarily shut down the bar/restaurant and OTB location. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene slapped stickers like this on the Irish Circle and temporarily shut down the bar/restaurant and OTB location. The Irish Circle passed re-inspection Wednesday and reopened its doors, several days after the city's Health Department - which has dramatically increased its number of restaurant closures this year - shut the restaurant down for flunking two previous inspections and violating a commissioner's order.

Inspectors from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene ordered the popular bar, restaurant and OTB location closed on Thursday, March 1, after the restaurant scored a 54 during a recent inspection. A passing score is 28 points or less.

The Circle also earned a failing score of 49 back on February 9 of this year. During that inspection, the restaurant was cited for not displaying a "Choking First Aid" poster or an "Alcohol and Pregnancy" warning, improper restroom maintenance, food protection, inadequate hand-washing facility and evidence of roaches.

The restaurant violated its closure order and was open for the festivities surrounding the Queens County St. Patrick's Day Parade, a make-or-break day for local bars. Sources said the move angered DOHMH brass.

Meanwhile, a representative for the Irish Circle said the place was done in by inspectors who have become sticklers in the wake of an embarrassing incident involving a rat-infested KFC in Greenwich Village. The New York Post reported this week that the number of restaurant closures has "skyrocketed" this year by nearly 85 percent as compared to last year.

"They basically made a big stink," Irish Circle co-proprietor Frank Walker told The Wave.

Walker said an inspector added 10 points to the Circle's score because the hot water valve on a hand-washing sink was closed.

"Basically what happened was one of the faucets wasn't on," said co-proprietor Frank Walker. "It's something that we could have fixed right in front of them."

Walker said his business partner, Gerald Perish, handled the multi-step process needed to reopen and encountered other "irate" restaurant owners who also say they were unfairly shut down.

"We've been here 12 years and we've never been closed," said Walker. "The place is immaculate, but unfortunately we suffered the consequences."

The Irish Circle passed re-inspection late Wednesday afternoon and reopened about 30 minutes later.

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