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Salt Bae's steak place will remain closed through at least Thursday

Soyturk and Joyce

Soyturk apologizes; Joyce explains need for action.

Salt Bae is leaving Boston soon and that should end the crowds of celebrity hounds who'd turned Arlington Street in Park Square into a potential superspreader spot in the eight days his steak place was open before the city shut it down, Salt Bae's local lawyer and two of his sub-Baes told the Boston Licensing Board today.

Nusret, 100 Arlington St., will remain shut until at least Thursday, when the licensing board considers lifting the shutdown and liquor-license suspension it ordered Saturday after repeated complaints from residents - and a citation from licensing detectives - about a lack of social distancing and mask wearing both outside and inside the restaurant. The restaurant was also given a $300 ticket by an ISD health inspector for violating city and state social-distancing guidelines.

"When we are hearing really egregious and serious complaints about public-health violations, it is our responsibility to address them," board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said in one of three hearings on the restaurant today. She emphasized the board was not even considering the Instagram posts by the Bae himself, just testimony from police officers, an ISD inspector and nearby residents.

Joyce said officials decided to shut the place Saturday afternoon as both a public-health threat and because city resources were being drained by having to deal with so many complaints to various city departments over the past week about conditions there.

"We aren't making any excuses, we should have done a better job," Ufuk Soyturk, a Nusret corporate executive, told the board.

The Bae himself did not attend the hearing, unlike the opening of the restaurant, but his Boston manager, Ali Avci, said that both he and the Bae are really torn up by what happened; the Bae is "very, very upset by these situations." Avci said neither he nor his boss have gotten more than an hour of sleep in the past three days.

"We cannot hide from the fact that the chef is an international celebrity," attorney Dennis Quilty said. "It was a perfect storm, if you will, of his celebrity causing a lot of this traffic outside."

Soyturk and Quilty said the celebrity hounds will soon no longer have a reason to flock to Arlington Street: The Bae, also known as Nusret Gökçe, plans to decamp from Boston soon, to sprinkle salt on steaks at his other 21 restaurants.

That can't happen fast enough for several nearby residents, who testified about conditions both on Arlington Street and inside the restaurant on the first few opening nights.

Nancy Morrisroe of Bay Village said she went to take a look after her daughter came home Saturday night to report that Salt Bae himself was outside the restaurant doing selfies. She told the board he was still doing that when she walked by - in particular with "the ladies."

"The entire sidewalk was just jam packed with people taking selfies and chatting and whatnot," Brian Boisvert, who lives on Piedmont Street, told the board. "It was chaos, absolute chaos, that whole weekend frankly."

Steve Coyle, who lives in the building that houses the restaurant, agreed with their accounts about the sidewalk conditions. Inside the restaurant, he said, " it was pandemonium." He said at one point he saw a maskless Salt Bae mingling with guests inside. Coyle did not go inside himself, but the restaurant has large picture windows overlooking Arlington Street - one with a rendering of the chef in his Internet-famous sprinkling position.

Quilty and Avci said their Open Table-based reservations system ensured the restaurant inside was not packed. Avci denied that tables were jammed together - he said he and his staff had an actual tape measure to ensure chairs at one table were no closer than six feet to the chairs at another. Outside, markers were placed every 12 feet to ensure distancing, he said.

Under questioning from Quilty, BPD Det. Eddie Hernandez acknowledged that Avci and three or four staffers came outside and tried to get people without reservations to leave at the height of the crowding around 8:45 p.m. that Saturday.

"He attempted to try to bring the line into compliance, but it never really happened," Hernandez said.

Avci said the first opening was intended to be a "soft" one and that the restaurant did no advertising and that he did not post anything on social media. However, he acknowledged that Salt Bae himself did post on social media, even after all the restaurant's seats were reserved.

Also up for discussion today: A citation issued by licensing detectives for blocked fire exits - a front exit blocked by a table at which two guests were sitting and a kitchen exit partially blocked by some trash and a bucket. Detectives acknowledged that restaurant staff quickly moved both the table and the items in front of the rear exit.

Quilty formally protested this past weekend's shutdown, saying his client never had the chance to try to object beforehand and that the official notice of a hearing about it only showed up yesterday, less than 24 hours before today's hearing.

Joyce acknowledged his objection, but said officials had no choice but to end what they considered a threat to public health and safety.

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Comments

The business has responsibility for the public sidewalk outside of it thrust open them.

Defund the (expletive) police.

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Voting closed 9

Don't open a restaurant in Boston. Seems simple enough. It's not like this isn't explained in the licensing regulations license holders are supposed to read (and in fact, are required to swear they've read, at least if they're also getting a liquor license).

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Voting closed 63

I have no problem with the rule of law and the restaurant's obligation to it, I'm just not interested in funding cops if it's the restaurant's job to tell people not to stand on the sidewalk.

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Voting closed 5

how much "funding" you actually provide to the BPD.

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Voting closed 5

How much of the meals tax on a 14K gold plated steak liberally covered in salt ends up in BPD coffers?

Boston does get state funding. One would think it would be a consideration when shutting these places down for gold-plated salmonella and fire code violations.

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Voting closed 3

Oh thank god, I was running low on righteous indignance. Will's here to save the day again.

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Voting closed 46

An internet salt sprinkler. Embarrassing!

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Voting closed 45

Seems like this is his desired outcome. Being shutdown by the city on the first day is exactly the sort of PR that drives his brand and makes him money. He couldn't have planned it better.

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Voting closed 52

with some salt and saliva please.

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Voting closed 13

I had a friend msg me the other day (a guy) saying he hooked up with him

he's an attention getter :D

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Voting closed 14

Why did you have to specify your friend is a guy...

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Voting closed 7

Its relevant.. esp for someone who puts off a str8 guy image :D

But please continue.....

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Voting closed 16

???

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Voting closed 3

This is the sort of thing that could get the guy murdered by the state in his home country. Even enormous jerkwads don't deserve to be murdered for their orientation. Discretion is advised.

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Voting closed 7

I saw a post about a Boston-area restaurant and was JUST going to ask if we had any stories about U-Hubbers (or their friends?) getting laid there or not getting laid there.

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Voting closed 32

I suddenly have an urge to have sex with a Tofurky.

I don’t know why.

But I now know I want to have NOTHING to do with this Bae guy selling anything at a profit.

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Voting closed 11

Salt.

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Voting closed 10

Consider this was a ploy.

This was covered in all kinds of paper and digital press and most TV stations carried it in the news. He didn't need to buy advertising, everyone else did it for him. The few hundred dollars in fines was far less than thousands in advertising dollars.

Again... Google is your friend. This guy and his team are notorious for not following safety regulations and the rest. Save a link tot his post. I predict this will not be this place's last run in with authorities of some kind. His reputation in NYC is not stellar.

As to the claims that he is some kind of international celebrity? Didn't know who he was until I read it here and saw it emblazoned on TV news (that free advertising thing I mentioned).

Maybe he wants to be the next Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker. Julia Child he is not.

And this whole schtick about spreading salt on raw meat by bouncing it off your forearm... how does that pass public health codes?

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Voting closed 10

...because I had to use Wikipedia to look up what "Salt Bae" is. "Internet salt shaker" seems apt.

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Voting closed 16

Oh Boston you’re so lame and boring that a guy who puts salt on steak is enough to rustle your feathers

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Voting closed 8

Just because you're an Internet celebrity doesn't mean you get to ignore health and safety codes, particularly during a pandemic.

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Voting closed 27

A guy who opens a restaurant and blatantly ignores the applicable health and safety rules that, as a voter i have chosen and, as a taxpayer I have hired my government to enforce, and who, in doing so, puts my and my neighbors health and lives at risk, kinda pisses me off. If that constitutes me being “lame and boring,” then OK.

As an aside, I don’t much like people who cheat at sports or at poker or on their taxes either, which probably further confirms my “lame and boring” nature in your eyes.

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Voting closed 8

Manhattan, Miami, and a dozen international locations, too. We're not the only city with suckers willing to pony up for obscenely-priced mediocrity in hopes of getting a selfie with an Insta-celebrity.

Incidentally, that is likely the last you'll see of Turkish Johnny Depp in Boston for a long while. It's that way for most circus-act celebrity-chefs: they only do a drive-by of their provincial outposts maybe once a year.

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Voting closed 11

Or does everybody who hopes to slip one past the licensing board, the BBAC, and/or the BPDA/BRA/whatever-it-is-now hire Dennis Quilty or Mike Ross? I assume trouble's brewing whenever I see their little poker faces.

If you're trying to pull a fast one, be sure hire one of them — and no one will ever guess!

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Voting closed 3

Didn't work out that well for Salt Bae, did it?

The alternate view is that you hire somebody like Quilty (or his firm) because you realize Boston licensing and permitting is complicated and you want somebody who knows how to make sure you do everything right, especially if you're from out of town (but again, look at what happened to our Bae here).

Ross has certainly made a name for himself on marijuana licensing. I've seen him at a few zoning hearings, too, but non-marijuana licensing, not so much. Besides McDermott, Quilty and Miller, there are really only a few attorneys who do licensing stuff on a regular basis in Boston (the number of lawyers who do zoning is larger, but it's still not a large community).

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Voting closed 5

... but I'm pretty sure that, in a city whose government is historically rife with petty soft corruption, the reason you hire the inside guy as your lawyer is not because he "knows how to make sure you do everything right."

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Voting closed 2

Salt Bae makes Guy Fieri seem like Alain Ducasse.

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Voting closed 3