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Broadway Theaters Get Served with Health Department Violations

Monday, June 20, 2011

Even though they're not cooking any food, Broadway theaters are getting letter grades from the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The Broadway venues, along with Off-Broadway and movie theaters, are included in the city's restaurant grading program because they operate concession stands. Many of the stands aren't performing very well.

Although final grades are still pending for most theaters, at least 15 of them have already been written up for violations that range from mice to bad plumbing in preliminary inspections. The Majestic Theatre, which is showing "Phantom of the Opera" currently, got 37 points for roaches backstage, among other offenses, and the Lyceum Theatre, showing John Leguizamo's "Ghetto Klown," received 56 points for failing to provide handwashing facilities for concession workers.

The city's health department can close an operation that receives more than 28 points in three consecutive inspections.

According to Variety editor Gordon Cox, theaters are getting bad scores because they are housed in very old buildings.

"A lot of these building are remnants of another era, and there's a lot of challenges to contend with in accommodating modern audiences and modern theatergoers," said Cox.

In a written statement, a health department spokesperson said, "Even with the limited food and drink offerings typically found at theaters, there is a risk of food borne illness if food safety practices are not followed. "

WNYC reached out to four theater operators that own 34 theaters on Broadway for this story.

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