DUMBO food market sits empty after health violations

July 16, 2019 Kelly Mena
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Less than a week after being shut down by the city’s health department, the Time Out Food Market, once a bustling tourist destination, still sits empty as of Tuesday.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene last Wednesday shut down 14 out of the 21 food vendors at the 21,000-square-foot food market following an inspection, citing a refrigerator with food temperatures well above the federal Food and Drug Administration standards, according to Patch.

According to the agency, a shared refrigerator at the 55 Water St. market was found to be at 58 degrees when inspected, instead of the federally mandated 41 degrees for cold food storage — a nearly 20-degree difference. The federal standards hold that potentially hazardous foods (meat and fish) must be kept at or below 41 degrees to prevent bacteria from growing and to decrease the risk of food-borne illnesses.

However, a sign at the market’s entrance cites “mechanical issues” for the closure instead of any health violations. Though only 14 eateries were officially shut down, the entire market seems to be feeling the brunt of the infractions.

The sign posted at Time Out Food Market. Eagle photo by Kelly Mena
The sign posted at Time Out Food Market. Eagle photo by Kelly Mena

“Due to issues with our main refrigeration unit, Time Out Market New York will remain closed over the coming days to ensure the matter has been fully resolved. Our team onsite is working closely with the DOH to make all necessary adjustments, so we can reopen as soon as possible,” a Time Out Market spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Time Out New York, the parent company of the food hall, noted it was a main refrigeration unit on their part that malfunctioned — it was not due to any actions by the vendors on site, the spokesperson said.

Tourists, local residents and business owners have been checking in regularly for updates on the eatery, which they want to see open sooner rather than later.

“I have a lot of guests that visit me from around the world — 15 to 20 people a day that I recommend this market to — and now where am I supposed to tell them where to go? This was a great spot because there were so many options available,” John McKee, owner of Brooklyn Giro Bicycle Tours, who has been in the neighborhood for the past three years, told the Eagle.

A dad and daughter duo, Jamal and Jade Young, were disappointed by the news as regulars of the two-story dining hall.

“I was deflated when I heard the news,” Jamal Young said. “But I think my first thought went to the concern of the people who work here because I know a lot of the folks who work here are young people who need the work and the experience. And then obviously the owners who need the revenue — and it’s an anchor institution in the neighborhood, so it’s really important.”

Empty hallway at Time Out Food Market amid health violations. Eagle photo by Kelly Mena
Empty hallway at Time Out Food Market amid health violations. Eagle photo by Kelly Mena

The eateries have no set date to reopen, but a health department spokesperson told the Eagle that the establishments must first request a reopening inspection.

“As the operator of the market, we are committed to fixing these issues that have unfortunately impacted our vendors,” the Time Out Market spokesperson said.

According to records from the inspection conducted on July 10, part of the issue with the market’s food storage was that the shared refrigerator found in violation lacked a proper log, and the operators did not know the appropriate temperature for food storage.

“The NYC Health Department conducts food safety inspections to protect the health of New Yorkers, and when we inspected the Time Out Market’s refrigerator we found food at temperatures that could be potentially hazardous,” the Health Department’s statement read.

The food vendors with the most health violation points included BKLYN Wild and Ivy Stark, both of which scored well over the 28-point threshold that can cause a restaurant to close, according to Health Department policy.

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  1. Preston Lathrop

    Thank you for reporting on this local situation. I was curious what was happening over there after I saw the temporary-closing sign on the door last Saturday night.

    While I agree that the situation is tough on the vendors, the vendors are food-service professionals who should have noticed if conditions were not up to code, so they carry some responsibility for not catching the issues before DOH showed up.