August really stunk for one local chef

First the basement flooded at Ming Tsai's Blue Dragon on A Street. Then a water-main break sent water up into the restaurant's grease traps, causing a second, and smellier, flood.

Tsai explained all that this morning to the Boston Licensing Board, at a hearing on the citation issued by detectives on Aug. 17 because workers had piled up furniture and equipment from the basement in front of a rear emergency exit. The detectives also cited him for not having the restaurant's various licenses displayed in a prominent location, as required by law.

Tsai acknowledged the citation was correct - stuff was piled up in front of the rear emergency exit and the frame in which his restaurant normally displays its licenses was missing.

He said that on Aug. 5, the basement flooded. Then about ten days later, a broken BWSC main nearby forced more water back into the restaurant, this time through the grease traps.

The furniture - and other items, such as three brand-new, still-in-the-box, $1,800 Dyson hand dryers - were brought upstairs in an attempt to dry them out, he said.

The licenses, well, were no longer fit for public display, he said, because "very large men with huge equipment" working on repairs knocked the frame into the sewage water on the first floor after the second flood.

"My biggest fear is sewage," board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini said. "It will force me into retirement," Tsai replied. He apologized for the stuff being piled in front of the exit and said he promptly applied for replacement permits.

The board considers Thursday what action, if any, to take.

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Comments

"My biggest fear is sewage"

Yeah, I'm sure (expletive) in the basement was water off a duck's back with the restaurateur until the six-figure making government appointee pointed out that such circumstances are to be feared.

Don't worry, I've done my job. Ciommo reminded everybody to vote on Facebook, and I asked him, if re-elected, what steps he will take to eliminate the Boston Licensing Board. I don't anticipate that he will respond.

Eliminating the license board is a crappy way to go.

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If anything, it's totally unnecessary, and vicious, to boot. The owner of the restaurant in question has his hands full...that's true. All the water backing up into his restaurant was probably caused by a combo of storage of things in the rear emergency entrance of the restaurant, the heavy rains that we had for awhile, and the fact that the grease traps weren't cleaned properly. These safety inspections are an absolute necessity, and the restaurant's owner sounds like he needs some help in rectifying the problem.

Sorry, I'm confused.

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If I'm reading this correctly they cited him for blocked exits and a license under water in a closed restaurant that was quite obviously flooded?

What a prudent, just, and financially sound use of city resources.

Even when very clearly closed for the forseeable future?

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Still seems ridiculous.

Wasting peoples time when a simple;

"Ok, Mr. Tsai. We can tell by the waders you're wearing that there has been a plumbing emergency and that you do not plan to serve this evening. Consider this visit your notice and before reopening we can come by for an inspection."

If he then opens without an inspection shut him down for 30 days (or whatever).

Inspections are for safety

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They can't say if that exit has always been blocked or if it's because of the flood. Some restaurants use every available space for storage, regardless of safety - hence the need for inspections. The Owner has to maintain safe exits at all times for employees and for guests, even if the restaurant is closed for repairs. Want to know what happens when exits are blocked in a fire? Google the Station Nightclub Fire.

Closed for food...

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It was still a business that was under repair. Workers and employees should all have a way out. Maybe even more so than dining guests on a night the kitchen is open. If the water/grease mix in the basement reached any wiring, plugging in the equipment that was being used to clean up the place could have been a bigger disaster than a kitchen fire.

If my office building has a fire, I'd prefer not to reach the stairwell just to find that they blocked it with scaffolding because they were painting the walls 10 floors down or something.

I imagine the lack of permits on display will likely get blown off. The blocked exit will likely net him a reprimand not to do it again, lesson learned, etc. But it's still important that they remain unblocked even if the restaurant isn't serving food.