Watch the video that made Salt Bae a viral sensation

Salt Bae's Boston restaurant closed days after opening after breaking coronavirus rules

Diners reported the steakhouse for a lack of social distancing measures and face coverings

Ellie Fry@iEllieFry
Monday 28 September 2020 15:13
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A Boston restaurant owned by internet sensation Salt Bae has been ordered to close by the city’s licensing board just days after opening.

The decision came after the eatery, named Nusr-Et, repeatedly failed to adhere to Covid-19 public safety standards, according to the licensing board.

Bae, whose real name is Nusret Gökçe, became famous for a viral video that showed him flamboyantly sprinkling salt onto a steak. The unusual technique resulted in him becoming a meme online.

The chef opened his Boston restaurant on Friday 18 September, but just over a week later, it was forced to close due to “the existing and imminent threat to public health and public safety,” the licensing board said. Its alcohol license was also suspended.

According to the board’s statement, officials received a complaint the day Nusr-Et opened and throughout the following weekend, alleging that the steakhouse was failing to adhere to Covid-19 requirements.

Gökçe is now expected to face the licensing board on Tuesday 29 September, where officials will hold two inspection hearings, the city confirmed.

One of the hearings is for a complaint raised on 18 September – the restaurant's first day – for violating a state order banning lines outside restaurants due to the risk queued people could spread Covid-19. 

Several other coronavirus-related complaints were filed with Boston 311, a website where residents can report issues to officials.

One person who reported the steakhouse on the site said that many people, including employees, were not wearing masks, claiming that many tables were “only 3ft apart”.

“When we arrived, there was no one near the host stand, but by the time we left around 9pm, there were 20-30 people standing around the host stand taking selfies and socialising without masks on,” the user wrote.

Others alleged there were parties larger than six people dining at the restaurant, with one user claiming there was “no social distancing measures at all.”

The second hearing is in relation to a later inspection on 23 September, where officials discovered two blocked fire exits.

The city’s Inspectional Services Department also failed the restaurant for several issues, including “evidence that the [person in charge] is not overseeing day to day operations to ensure establishment is operating in compliance with the food code.

The inspector also found that two refrigerators were too warm while the temperature inside two dishwashers was not set high enough.

A follow-up inspection the next day showed all the problems had been fixed, except that the dishwashers remained set with their water temperatures too low.

Gökçe has also faced issues with his other restaurants, notably at his New York eatery. Last year, it came under fire for potentially violating the city’s health code which prohibits the use of bare hands during food preparation.

The Independent has reached out to Nusret Gökçe for comment.

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