Raising a Stink

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email complaining about Bubby’s: “They’ve been clearing their trash in a way that smears the stuff all over the sidewalk and street. Then they clean it with bleach and smear the smell further and further. It smells like a slaughterhouse on the south side of N. Moore Street and we’ve tried calling 311, sanitation, and so on, to no effect. So we’ve printed up fliers which we are going to put up.” As you have probably guessed, that’s the flyer pictured above.

Owner Ron Silver emailed this response: “The problem seems to be that the garbage truck, which picks up a dozen other stops before us, leaks liquid out into the street when it compresses our garbage. We have contained our garbage in 30-gallon rubber totes to avoid leaks from our garbage. We are trying to find another garbage company, but the only really professional one, Waste Management, doesn’t serve Manhattan. We steam clean the sidewalk and street every morning, but the sludge from the truck is impossible to deal with. The city doesn’t sweep N. Moore, so we are battling the best we can on our own. That said, we are also doing all we can do to work with our neighbors, and I feel confident that we will be able to work it out together.” In a follow-up email, he added, “One of our neighbors, a highly vocal one at that, just said she’d never seen it looking better on the street. So maybe it’s improved?” I told him I thought we’d find out when I posted this.

It’s a messy situation, easy to sympathize with residents but if the truck part is true, what is Bubby’s to do? And certainly there are many restaurants whose sidewalks could use the kind of attention that Bubby’s is evidently giving its sidewalk. (I’m talking to you, Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine.) But that’s not actually the only point of this post, as interesting as any restaurant/neighbor fight is.

Reader Troy Torrison, who does not live near Bubby’s, floated a proposal for dealing with sidewalk stink. “Here’s the thing that bugs me about the Department of Health’s restaurant grades: They only deal with the inside of the place. My idea is to also have the ‘graders’ look at the sidewalk. Is the sidewalk out front a stained/smelly/disgusting/putrid thing or not? If it’s dirty, get one of those air-compressor steam-jet cleaner things ASAP and solve the problem. Make a monthly visit from the steam cleaner guy part of your cost of doing business if the problem persists. If you fail to keep your sidewalk non-scuzzy, face getting a B or a C. Imagine how much better downtown (and Chinatown and Midtown) would be!”

No doubt Ron Silver is wishing his sidewalk only need to be cleaned on a monthly basis. Leaving aside the details, let’s run the proposal up the flagpole: Do you think it’s a valid idea? Worth mentioning to the electeds?



  1. Went by Bubby’s yesterday and the sidewalk was spotless and smell-less! Maybe it’s working already. But seriously, I sympathize with the guy and other businesses about the leaky trucks and few choices for garbage removal. Still, most of the smelly sidewalks I see are NOT the fault of the haulers.

  2. I am sorry, I know this is a little bit off topic, but I just wanted to say how disappointed I was with the quality of the food at Bubby’s lately. I had dinner and lunch there very recently, and both times I left feeling completely robbed. To say that the free range chicken dinner at $25+ was underwhelming, is being kind. For lunch, my friend and I both had a cobb salad, which, too, seemed extremely expensive, and we both agreed that you can get the same caliber salad (or possibly even better) at any mediocre diner. Anyway, thank you for letting me vent my Bubby’s frustration, be it not pertaining to the foul smell issue.

  3. From eater.com in 2007:

    “Bubby’s restaurant failed four inspections since June 2007. Inspectors observed evidence of vermin activity at each inspection, including rat activity during two of the inspections. The restaurant was closed following an inspection on 11/14/07. Violations at that time included food contaminated with over 200 live cockroaches in four areas, evidence of rat activity in two areas, fly infestation in four areas, food kept at unsafe temperatures, bare hand contact with ready to eat food and multiple conditions contributing to vermin infestation.”

  4. Disgusting!!! There are pleanty of restaurants on this street, but none others leave stinky, gooey sludge on the sidewalk and in the middle of the street. If this were a carting company issue then Bubbys would not stand alone as the only restaurant that can’t figure out how to deal with refuse in a decent manner. Shame on you Bubbys for passing the trash instead of dealing with your stinky ways.

  5. To its credit, Bubby’s has recently begun to put their garbage in cans rather than leave dozens of leaking bags directly on the sidewalk, which has slightly improved the conditions. However, the situation is still disgusting and it is ridiculous to blame the garbage trucks. If what the owner alleges is true (that the only professional waste removal company does not service Manhattan), then how come this issue does not exist for Walker’s right down the street??

  6. Why go to Bubby’s ? when you can get better food, service at better prices at Walker’s down the block….without the smell.

  7. The situation is a disgrace. It smells terrible, is an eyesore, and who wants to walk their dogs on a sidewalk covered in bleach. There are a lot of other restaurants in the neighborhood who have found ways to deal with their trash- why can’t Bubby’s?

  8. Bubbys has been a neighborhood destination and a huge supporter of our Tribeca neighborhood for years. I am very distressed that people are going to such lengths to discredit this wonderful establishment. Ron and his staff are always so great when we ask them to support our schools and participate in any fundraising event. I have been there with my kids and for brunch with my family and I have had the best service and food so I don’t know where all these negative reviews are coming from.

  9. @Kerry F. – the negative reviews are coming from actual experiences from other Tribeca residents that have eaten at Bubby’s. Their comments are not based on whether Bubby’s has good service or supports the neighborhood and its schools, but rather on the quality of its food, prices, and cleanliness in comparison to other Tribeca restaurants. Don’t let Bubby’s support of your pet projects blind you to the reality of the situation or the official NYC DoH&MH reports. Their not just making this sh*t up.

  10. How can anyone argue that Bubby’s is a supporter of Tribeca if it can’t satisfy the basic responsibilities of a good neighbor? I think its next door neighbors and passers-by deserve basic sanitation and a smell-free (for NYC) zone.
    And, I wonder about a restaurant that is happy to present such a dirty facade to the public. What oh what is it like in the back? Yuck!

  11. I do note that the the bad DOH & MH reports are from 2007. The recent inspections and grade as of 3/18/11 is an A.

  12. @Kerry F – You’ve clearly done thorough research. Bon Appétit.

  13. The Palm on West Street must use the same waste hauler as Bubby’s…..

  14. The area outside Nobu often smells horrible as well.

  15. Bubby’s as popular as it is has always had issues of cleanliness. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 31 years and there has always been a bit of a sour smell to the place,. Not only that,back in the day,and I don’t know about now, the pie crusts tasted moldy . Ron….come on.

  16. @Kerry F. – Since you are so indignant in your defense of Bubby’s and so convinced everyone else is wrong…. I just thought I would provide you an update. On July 29, the NYC Dept of Health issued the following results for Bubby’s Tribeca):

    Violations from 07/29/2011 Inspection
    Tip! “Critical” violations are displayed in red. (#1-6)

    Violation points: 49

    Violations were cited in the following area(s).

    Sanitary Violations
    1) Hot food item not held at or above 140º F.
    2) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
    3) Raw, cooked or prepared food is adulterated, contaminated, cross-contaminated, or not discarded in accordance with HACCP plan.
    4) Live roaches present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
    5) Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.
    6) Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
    7) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
    8) Plumbing not properly installed or maintained; anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device not provided where required; equipment or floor not properly drained; sewage disposal system in disrepair or not functioning properly.
    9) Non-food contact surface improperly constructed. Unacceptable material used. Non-food contact surface or equipment improperly maintained and/or not properly sealed, raised, spaced or movable to allow accessibility for cleaning on all sides, above and underneath the unit.

    Bubby’s Brooklyn received a 44, 56 and 47 in May, June and July (respectively) and was closed by DOHMH in July.

    Obviously both restaurants have huge issues with vermin, insects and filth.

    Kerry – these are not my opinions – they are fact. BTW – this is from July 29, 2011.

  17. Update – Bubby’s had 49 violation points on their DOH inspection this past Friday (July 29th). I imagine that the Tribeca location will be shut down by the DOH much like the Brooklyn location was.
    I am really tired of many of these Tribeca restaurants charging a premium for mediocre food, substandard service, filthy kitchens and think they can get away with it because of their location.

    I also think residents have a right to know when our local restaurants receive so many violation points (especially for vermin/roaches/filthy conditions) – so please post this comment, Eric.

  18. @Kerry F – my apologies, Bubby’s seems to be doing MUCH better. They have raised their violations to 68 on 8/8/11. Yum.

  19. This update is very disturbing. My opinions are based on my personal experience, their recent grade and, as one person above noted, involvement with “my pet project.” Based on this current information, I hope Bubby’s will work to correct the violations.

  20. On 8/22 they received 58 points. That is the third failed inspection in a month. It’s almost like Bubby’s is daring DoH to shut them down. Why don’t they just make the necessary repairs. The place is mobbed on the weekends, when they raise prices and go cash only. It has to be a goldmine. A filthy, smelly goldmine.

  21. RUN, don’t walk, your children over for breakfast/ lunch/dinner before it closes. This kind of health hazard won’t stay open for long!!! Now I know why people waited in line to get it into this place; they are thrill-seekers/devil-may-carers/Non vivants. Seconds, please!!!

  22. To the person(s) who continue to rail against Smith & Mills (and whose comments I refuse to post): 1) This post clearly isn’t the place for it; 2) The burden of proof is on you, and even then I reserve the right not to post a comment, especially if it’s potentially libelous; 3) Calling me “darling” doesn’t really make up for accusing me of brushing something under the rug.