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The National Underground Shut by Health Department

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The National Underground, singer/songwriter Gavin DeGraw's rock lounge at 159 E. Houston St., was shuttered Friday by city health inspectors.

The National Underground, a popular rock and roots bar on East Houston Street, was shut down Friday by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, The Lo-Down has learned. Inspectors issued 71 violation points (a C grade), citing problems with food handling such as improper holding temperatures and the potential for contamination, as well as the presence of mice or the evidence of mice. The bar was cited for 10 violations, five of them ranked as “critical.” The lesser violations involved plumbing and structural issues.

A big yellow “Closed” sticker clung to the front door this afternoon, while workers were on site making improvements and renovations in a scramble to reopen as soon as possible.

Renovations were under way Monday afternoon at The National Underground.

“We’re trying for later this week,” said manager Matthew Imbo, who was overseeing the unloading of building materials such as concrete mix and lumber this afternoon. “We had some issues with paperwork.”

In addition to the food-related violations, the health department cited multiple structural issues at the two-story music venue that serves a simple menu of bar food such as burgers. The problems involved plumbing that was “not properly installed or maintained; anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device not provided where required; equipment or floor not properly drained; sewage disposal system in disrepair or not functioning properly.”

Other violations included: Mechanical or natural ventilation system not provided, improperly installed, in disrepair and/or fails to prevent excessive build-up of grease, heat, steam condensation vapors, odors, smoke, and fumes; non-food contact surface improperly constructed with unacceptable material used.

The bar, which was opened by singer/songwriter Gavin DeGraw and his brother Joey in December 2007, will remain closed until the health department returns for a reinspection. You can read the full report by using the city’s search widget here.


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