Central Brooklyn

[Update: Re-Opened!] Sycamore Closed Temporarily After DOH Inspection

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Sycamore Bar and Flower shop, 1118 Cortelyou Road, June 27. (Photo by Carly Miller/BKLYNER)

[Update 6/28 at 4pm: Sycamore passed another DOH inspection today, according to owners and city officials. See our second story, published 6/30 here]

Today, Ditmas Park’s favorite flower shop-bar had a closure sign slapped on the front window from the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.

After an inspection on Monday, the DOHMH issued a temporary closure of Sycamore Bar & Flower Shop, at 1118 Cortelyou Road, for operating a dual business, said owners, who called the situation “unique and disruptive”. (Stems flower shop shares the Sycamore space).

“The coexistence of the flower shop and bar is suddenly a little too cozy in the eyes of the great city of New York…We are working feverishly to remedy the situation.”

On Wednesday, a Department of Health spokesperson responded to our inquiry, with this response:

“Health Department inspectors found fruit flies at the establishment and food contaminated with fruit flies. The flowers and food were kept in the same refrigerator, which may have led to cross-contamination. Inspectors also noted that in order to access the flower shop’s storage, workers would need to go through the kitchen, again allowing for cross-contamination…The last inspection was in January 2017, at which time a ‘flower shop operation’ was not observed.”

In the meantime, onlookers gathered outside the storefront in waves today balking at the sign. The bar also received an outpouring of support on social media, where commenters lamented the closure and jumped to support the venue.

“Cortelyou Road isn’t the same without Sycamore,” wrote Ali Feuring.

But it may be premature to mourn for this neighborhood hangout, as staff expressed confidence that the bar will be open again soon. When we stopped by today, the owner was already at the DOH offices, employees told us. The fate of Stems flower shop remains unclear at this time.

After being tagged on Facebook, City Council Member Mathieu Eugene’s office contacted the DOH office directly, said Eugene’s press spokesman.

Meanwhile, Jen Berkley, one of Eugene’s upcoming challengers for District 40, seized the moment to campaign and throw her support behind small businesses that often have to dodge hurdles from the city.

“I’m not saying an establishment that has legitimate health code violations shouldn’t take care of those issues, but we need to review outdated regulations that force unique business models, like Sycamore, to fit a square peg into a round hole,” said Berkley.

(Photo by Carly Miller/BKLYNER)

Although the shop has been in business for almost eight years, they’re working with a “new set of codes” for dual businesses from the health department, as the bar wrote on social media. 

This isn’t the first time the Ditmas Park hangout was targeted. A few years ago, the bar was forced to shutter their popular basement music venue after it was deemed “unfit for the performances” by the Department of Buildings.

Since then, they’ve opened up the popular Flatbush Food Court in their garden backyard, hosting different pop-up vendors serving snacks and treats to bargoers.

“What’re they afraid of? That someone might actually stop and smell the flowers?” wrote Facebook commenter P.j. Chesterfield.  

(Photo by Carly Miller/BKLYNER)

This is a developing story. This story was originally published on 4/27, and updated on 6/28 at 2pm to include the comment from a DOH spokesperson, and at 4pm to announce the re-opening. A previous version of this article stated that violations were related to ‘food storage’ but that was contested by owners, who will release more information soon.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. That actually makes sense mixing plant fertilizer or animal fertilizer around food is not necessarily a safe thing. Hipsters need to understand these basic health issues but they don’t-it’s just common sense that’s lacking!

  2. Health and hygiene laws are necessary and vital. I’m thankful that the city forces local business to comply with laws and regulations designed to keep us healthy and safe. Thank you Mayor DeBlasio!

  3. Despite the disclaimer of “fleurs du mal” as the Sycamore problem, I’m wondering if the Food Court outback is the issue? Since the outdoor service was a (very) regular feature, NYCDOH might be holding Syc’ to a restaurant health standard and they might not be so licensed. Whatever the cause, hope it reopens soon. A wonderful, local establishment. If necessary, just nix the food and park a food truck outside.

  4. It is one thing to support a business in the community. It is another thing to blame the city for enforcing regulations that keep food safe. If someone were to get sick, then we would hear people getting upset with the city for not enforcing health regulations. I, for one, am glad the city health inspectors are looking out for our health and safety. Thank our civil servants and the Mayor for looking out for the community.

  5. What a bunch of nanny-state do-gooders! Tony N above actually sounds like he knows the place. I wonder if any of the other commenters have even been to Sycamore. Mixing food and fertilizer? Um, the food is in the backyard, and the flowers are in the front window, something like 50+ feet away. *SMH*

  6. None of us really know the details, do we? Sycamore does offer food…brought in, I believe, each evening by that night’s vendor. Since the vendors change nightly, the idea of food being left there seems unlikely. However, the bar does have lemons, limes, and other foods used in their drinks. Having seen some really sketchy places serving food as a principal business, I hope everyone finds a way to work this out and keep it running as it has…flowers, a bar, and a back yard. Further…the previous inspector, who did not notice the flower shop, despite the signs and dried flowers hanging on the wall, should be shown to a different profession.

  7. That was not the real reason. As a longtime resident of Ditmas Park- they targetted the Sycanore because it hosts to he Gay and Lesbian community, and Orthodox homeowners don’t want Flatbush to turn into another Williamsburg situation- Was at meeting when this was discussed by he LGBT alliance

  8. Interesting theory, James Sullivan, but is there any evidence to support it? Not that many Orthodox in the immediate vicinity of Cortelyou anyway.

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