How many times have you seen this lovely picture? Bartenders are notorious for this practice. We like to keep our personal sodas cold, our energy bars fresh, and our ice scoops on the ready. What you’re witnessing above is drinking ice contaminated with objects which have zero business being stored as such. The major rub (aside from the obvious health issues)? The Health Department smackdown.
Ah.. New York City! The land where every other storefront is seemingly a bar or restaurant. So many choices – so little time. There are thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of bars and restaurants in this town. It makes for some ridiculously difficult eating/drinking choices. The NYC Department of Health is charged with ensuring that every single one of those establishments is in compliance with standardized Food Handling and Sanitary Practices. The trouble is, there are only a few dozen Inspectors on the streets. It can be months or even years between (supposedly random) inspections – if they ever occur at all. An unfortunate consequence is the “Security by Obscurity” that many bars/restaurants follow as a result.
That environment has lead to a few more or less standardized practices – some of which I’m going to shed some light on. The majority of venues I’ve worked in have documented food handling policies and are damn near O.C.D. about keeping clean, constantly driving their Gestapo floor managers to beat their F.O.H. and B.O.H. staff with the Enforcement Stick. On the flip side, there are a whole lot of dirt-ass owners and managers in this town that simply do not adhere to basic tenants of cleanliness. They know they’re not going to get inspected often, and casually let the resident rats go about their business, and repeatedly violate the public by doing stupid shit like serving week-old, redressed, cooked chicken.