Cer Te Says DOH is Causing the “McDonaldization of NYC”

Despite being one of our favorite places in all of Midtown for sandwiches, Cer Te (on 55th btw. 5+6th) has been battling  poor Department of Health scores ever since the city started hanging letter grades on the windows.  They dressed up their “B” back in September, and last week a tipster pointed out that the B is now a C.  And they’re hiding it all the way at the bottom of the door.

Two lunchers decided to take them to task in the comments, and Cer Te responded with this…

Dear Midtown Readers:

Just to give you some insight on Cer te’ and our challenges with the DOH. Our philosophy is to give a “from scratch” high quality product, with value. This presents many challenges in the Midtown area due to landlords, vendors & the DOH. The website that you read was built on the notion of getting a great lunch at great price. The reason why this has not been possible in Midtown is because of the amount of each sq. ft. costs. That is why the only options are mainly fast food and high-end dining. What we do in a 3,200 sq. ft. place would take a normal restaurant about 10,000 sq. ft. As we grow, we refuse to take short cuts such as ready made food. The violations we received are mainly based on non-food items. We are committed to buying from the right sources and ensuring that we feed our customer the proper product.

Without realizing, the DOH is contributing to the McDonaldization of NYC and we refuse to bend. After all, it is much easier to store frozen & canned products, than fresh products. We are adamant about preparing our food on-premise and not having a hidden off-premise commissary that is under the radar of the DOH. The DOH hardly grades on cleanliness & they do not reward for superior products. They are more concerned about temps and holding points. We lost 15 points just on the fact the building did not have hot water, although we have a booster that heats the water as it comes through our space. We are currently appealing the C, which is why we have not displayed the sign. Anyone is welcome to take a tour of both facilities, Pizza by Certe’ (3 star Certified Green Restaurant) and Certe’… at anytime. If you do not have time to come back, go to the DOH website and read the actual violations we received. We are patiently waiting our next inspection, which we feel confident that we will receive the A that is due to us.


  • All of these points could have been raised at a hearing. If they were valid, the violations would have been removed. I’ve personally attended hearings recently and had violations removed and points reduced. We all have to follow the same standards.

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    Thanks Dan L. for the geography lesson. Do some research and you will see the outer boroughs are less frequented then midtown NYC, why is that? Do you know what these fines cost? They are planning to hit the trucks and street vendors soon, How will they survive?

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    I just really have to balk at the lack of common sense that goes into these comments.
    I am on Certe’s side,they have always treated me well and I depend on them on a daily basis not just for my personal meals but of my executives and colleagues.
    The DOH has closed too many a great restaurant on simple equipment flaws and it will not happen to Certe on my watch.
    The “violations” that the DOH has doled out against Certe are fixable,treatable and non threatening to immediate food contamination.
    As a person who worked many years in the restaurant field I can tell you that these violations could be worse and are only given glorification by people who do not completely understand the motives of the DOH.
    If I was Certe, I would have displayed the grade more prominently with a sigh next to it that, “we have made reccommended changes by the DOH and are awaiting their next review.”
    Lots of things the average person does not know about the restaurant business is aside from temperature requirements, hand washing and equipment sanitation is that at any given time any restaurant can be in violation of the DOH simply from the nature of the work.

    If water isnt immediately present at a food preparation station, it is acceptable to use gloves, which Certe does, however when was the last time any of you saw a hand washing station ontop of a food preparation station?
    Not even at Mcdonalds and I know Certe has handwashing stations but they are not immediately ontop of the stations.
    During lunch hour, while equipment is in use how is it possible to sanitize at the same time of food preparation?
    No soap in the bathroom? Cmon, thats utter madness.
    No thermometers?maybe the DOH agent stole them, whatever it is…these violations are simply preposterous.
    In a cooling station in the middle of the summer when the area is opened frequently, naturally the temperature will rise and cause the thermometer to read higher or not cool enough.
    In any event if people dont stop making the DOH the Gods of their food consumption we are all F*u#c*d.
    Says the girl finishing her Certe boxed lunch at her desk :)

  • I’ll accept most of Cer Te’s explanation, but I’m sorry, I still can’t get past the hand washing violation. I can buy the hot water story but the lack of soap grosses me out. Just rinsing after dropping a deuce doesn’t cut it.

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