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Health Inspection Turns Up Trouble at Tiki Bar Painkiller

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Health inspectors gave Painkiller (aka PKNY) 101 points for nine violations during a visit Friday.

Following on the heels of settling a federal lawsuit over trademark infringement last month, Lower East Side tiki bar Painkiller faces another kind of trouble in the wake of a health department inspection Friday. The bar drew 101 violation points for a variety of serious sanitation issues.

The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene cited it for nine violations. Seven were labeled “critical,” including water and ice that was not potable or drawn from an unapproved source, food being handled with bare hands, the presence of live roaches, inadequate hand-washing facilities, and a lack of food protection certification for the supervisor of food operations.

Painkiller’s 101 points–a “C” grade on the city’s rating system–is more than any other establishment in the 10002 ZIP code has earned since September 2009, according to the health department’s web database. The second-highest point total, 76, was issued to China Favorite restaurant at 96 E. Broadway last month; that restaurant was subsequently closed by health officials.

The inspection was Painkiller’s first since June 2010, when it received only 17 points for four violations, only one of which qualified as critical.

A spokesperson for the city did not respond to inquiries about what action, if any, the health department would take to rectify the situation at Painkiller. The bar was open for business as usual Tuesday night; an employee said owners Giuseppe Gonzalez and Richard Boccato were not on-site and referred additional questions to them. In response to an email inquiry, Boccato said late last night he was “not at liberty to discuss” the inspection findings.

Any restaurant earning a total of more than 28 points automatically requires re-inspection within roughly a month. The restaurant can also appeal its score. For more info, see our related story about restaurant inspection reports today.

(UPDATE, 1:50 p.m.): A spokeswoman from the health department just responded to our inquiry. She clarified that the water problem was actually a lack of hot water in the bar at the time of the inspection. She said that the fact Painkiller is not a restaurant caused inspectors to simply order another inspection as a follow-up.

Her statement via email, in part: “At the time of inspection, Health Department staff evaluated the inspection results for the establishment for possible further immediate enforcement action, also considering that the establishment is a bar only, and determined that the food service establishment will be scheduled for a reinspection. The re-inspection will take place in the near future.”

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  1. They do not serve food as a restaurant would, but the health department has jurisdiction over them because they serve beverages consumed by the public. And those beverages are made from food such as fruit, so the regulations about food storage temperatures, etc., apply, as well as sanitary standards about hand-washing. One of the critical violations was for water and/or ice from an unapproved source, for example.

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