After it was temporarily shut down by the city Health Department for several violations, Martha’s Country Bakery in Forest Hills reopened its doors for business on Wednesday, Aug. 25.
The city Health Department shuttered the bakery, located at 70-28 Austin St., after racking up 66 points for sanitary violations that included fly infestations, personal inadequate cleanliness and contaminated surfaces. Patch was first to report the story.
Sanitary violations are issued when the safety of the food being prepared and served is threatened, according to the Health Department. The Forest Hills bakery’s sanitation violations are displayed in red text, which cites the most critical violations.
The health violations had prompted an influx of reactions from neighbors on the Forest Hills Facebook page, after a resident posted a picture of the shuttered bakery with a notice saying that Martha’s had been ordered “closed” on Aug. 23.
The resident also posted a photo of a sign that was placed by the owners that said the store had been closed until further notice “due to plumbing issues and construction work.”
While some residents were questioning the bakery’s closure, others had pointed out the Health Department’s yellow notice.
“Now they’ve boarded up the front of the store with ‘under construction’ signs put up so you can’t see the yellow Department of Health citation that was slapped on the door,” a resident wrote. “Pretty shady, and probably illegal if you ask me.”
Another resident wrote, “Closed by the Health Department…that ‘plumbing issue’ letter is bull—-.”
“Martha’s shouldn’t lie and just own it — admit the mistake and vow to correct with deep cleaning. That way it wouldn’t leave a bad taste in customers’ mouths,” a resident said.
While some residents slammed the bakery for making it appear that it was closed for construction, others commented on the venue’s lack of cleanliness.
“This place was so dirty the last time I went there. I am surprised the health department didn’t close it sooner,” a resident said.
Another resident said they saw a staff member “put icing from their hand onto a cake,” and a “cook scratching his junk and handling the food.”
“Although they are graded as A they have had multiple violations in the past — it’s just that this time they actually had enough violations to issue a closure,” a resident said.
Meanwhile, fans of the popular bakery couldn’t wait for it to reopen.
“On occasions Martha’s Country Bakery was giving all of us hope when most of us were down after work, staying in long lines just to get in and enjoy their sweets, and as there were classic napoleon cakes + a cappuccino to go long with, to put a smile on our faces…one of those days we can all say hooray once again as it perhaps reopens,” a resident said.
Another resident wrote, “NOOOOOO, how will I survive without my weekly carrot cake!”
This isn’t the first time the beloved neighborhood bakery received health inspection violations. According to city Health Department records, Martha’s was issued violations in December 2018 and in November and December 2019.
Violations found during inspections carry point values, and a restaurant’s score corresponds to a letter grade. The point-grade cut-offs are the same as for mobile food vending letter grading, with fewer points corresponding to a better grade:
- “A” grade: 0-13 points for sanitary violations
- “B” grade: 14 to 27 points for sanitary violations
- “C” grade: 28 or more points for sanitary violations
The Health Department may order a restaurant to temporarily close to correct a public health hazard that cannot be corrected before the end of an inspection or when the restaurant is operating without a valid permit.
To reopen, the establishment must submit a written statement to the Health Department indicating that it has corrected all the violations that led to its being closed, according to the Health Department.
After re-opening, the establishment will be inspected for compliance with the Health Code. If it is in sufficient compliance, it may remain open and will be inspected again in about three months.
Martha’s Country Bakery has other locations in Bayside, Astoria and Brooklyn that are open.
QNS contacted Martha’s in Forest Hills for a statement regarding the health inspection violations. The manager declined to comment.