B&B Empire Bagels Slapped With Health Violation—For Poppy Seeds On The Floor

Holy Sesame! A Health Department inspector has slapped B&B Empire Bagel Cafe in Brooklyn Heights with a $1,650 fine… because sesame and poppy seeds fell to the floor while bagels were being prepared during working hours. Owner Alex Gormakh appealed the decision and lost at two separate hearings.

“It is impossible to clean up after each and every bagel. A few seeds are always going to be dropped when you are dipping the bagel in the seeds. They don’t all stick like glue,” Gormakh told the New York Post. All of the code violations filed against the “Montreal style” bagel store at 200 Clinton Street were for such “incidental” grievances.

B&B uses a $60,000 wood-burning oven where bagels are baked smaller and chewier than New York-style goodies, then covered with poppy and sesame seeds. A Health Department spokeswoman told the NYP that the bagel shop was cited Oct. 23, 2011, for “a heavy accumulation of seeds in the same area that mouse droppings were found.” However, no mice were detected in an earlier inspection Aug. 1, 2011, and none in the latest inspection April 5, when B&B was awarded an “A” cleanliness grade.

Gormakh and his son, Max, have now invested close to $900,000 in larger stainless steel preparation tables in hopes of containing seed fallout, and an expensive water-filter vacuum to suck up seeds from the floor. “It is still not profitable, but it is close,” Gormakh said, who opened the store last June.

Gormakh tells the Post that he is now resigned to the higher cost of doing business in this city: “If you want to work you have to pay. In Russia, they call it corruption. Here they call it something else.”

(Photo: BHB)

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  • Bloomy

    I feel kinda bad for them, but how does ever other bagel place handle this issue? Or was the real issue just a cranky inspector?

  • Petty Pete

    This place has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood and the service and food are exemplary. This petty harassment is a waste of time and taxpayer’s money. Seeds?! Seriously?

  • Holly

    Their bagels are fantastic. As a Canadian, and Montreal Bagel lover, I can tell you that they have amazing bagels. Served without pretension which I can’t say is the case for many other Bococa independent restaurants/cafes etc.
    I hope they do well.

  • j

    Canada is known for their bagels?!?

  • AEB

    And where IS this place? I’m always seeking a good bagel–a thing as elusive as…well, a good bagel.

  • Knight

    The article says it’s at 200 Clinton Street. Please don’t tell us you need a more exact location than that!

  • AEB

    Thanks, Knight. No, that’s a thoroughly and sufficiently exact address.

    Missed it in the piece. So much for one’s reading skills….

  • NYC Denizen

    “”How does every other bagel place handle this issue?””

    The same way every other food joint HAS to handle it in NYC, by hitting the inspector with $20 each time the inspector raises an issue.

  • Jorale-man

    I went back there for the first time in several months on Saturday was pleasantly surprised by how good the bagels and service both are. They even bring out the bagel on a nice plate to you. And yes, I had a sesame seed bagel, and the seeds were all there.

  • Hicks on Hicks

    Not only was B&B Empire screwed by the health inspector, but NYC tax payers has to pay for this idiot seed cop to be on the city payroll.

  • http://n/a Barbara Shernoff

    Totally unfair and ridiculous!!

  • NYPD

    If you read the Department of Health reports they say nothing of seeds or anything that could be interpreted that way. I suspect its a load of BS used as an excuse to get sympathy from the customers as to why they had a B grade. Also, it is either a typo or more fanciful BS that stainless steel tables cost $900,000. Maybe they put that much into building the whole place and to keep it going for the year hardly anyone went there. Looks like a money laundering operation to me.

  • Knight

    NYPD: the quote regarding seeds is from a Health Department spokeswoman contacted by the NY Post. It is not BS dreamed-up by a sympathy seeking owner.

  • Big Dave

    If you Google “stainless steel prep tables” you will find they run under $500 each for professional grade. Waiter, may I have the Fact Check please?

  • NYPD

    Knight you are correct, I must have missed that. However it dose say “a heavy accumulation of seeds in the same area that mouse droppings were found.” indicating the problem wasn’t a few seeds casually falling on the floor, it was more like they never cleaned them up.

  • http://n/a Barbara Shernoff

    NYPD: Thanks for the complete health violation report-now it makes sense that they were given the fine.

  • Resident of 200 Clinton St.

    This place is disgusting. Scrambled eggs kept on a warmer plate? Who wants that? But I’m just a jaded resident of their building who has to listen to their back door slam day in and out because they can’t be bothered to put a mechanism on their door to prevent the door from slamming. Our apartment faces their back door and we’ve seen them place trays of uncooked bagels outside in the unkempt courtyard (one time in the rain!), squirrels filching bagels and eating them out back, and just general disorder in the back courtyard with boxes and trash everywhere.