A fruit fly-infested, vermin-exposed deli laden with dozens of health violations remained open and operating for weeks after it was ordered by the city to shut down, NBC 4 New York has learned.
The Hub Deli and Grocery Corp. is popular in its South Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven, but it was ordered by the health department to shut down on Aug. 6 after inspectors found 58 code violations, including cross-contamination of food, not being vermin-proof, and being infested with fruit flies, according to the city's website.
But the business on East 149th Street stayed open for the last two weeks, despite the yellow signs on the door posted by the city health department reading "closed." Those signs were covered up and hidden to the public, and NBC 4 New York cameras found the deli was fully operating Wednesday, with customers placing orders and deliveries being made.
When informed by NBC 4 New York on Monday and again on Wednesday that the business was still running, the health department said it sent inspectors to the deli, closed it again and threw food out. But frequent customers said Wednesday nothing had changed and that it stayed open.
"It's illegal what they're doing," said neighbor Jackie Minoso. "If they're told to shut down by a certain date, that's when they should shut down."
Alisha Barnes said she'd seen fruit flies in the store but had no idea there was an infestation.
"You get sick from that. You want to eat somewhere clean, that's ridiculous," she said.
"I'm highly upset. I come here a lot, and I wasn't notified about the infestation. It's disgusting," said another customer, who only gave his first name as Andrew.
An employee at the business said Wednesday evening the owner was on vacation and could not comment. A short time later, he reappeared outside while NBC 4 New York was interviewing a customer and threw iced tea at the reporter and the photographer.
Soon afterward, the deli was closed and the doors locked. The yellow health department signs were made clearly visible.
Asked how many strikes a business gets before it's closed permanently, the health department said: "If they contnue to operate illegally, we may move to other enforcement aactions to ensure they don't pose a risk to public health."