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El Faro Restaurant in West Village Closed by Health Department for Mice

By Andrea Swalec | October 2, 2012 1:13pm

WEST VILLAGE — The city closed longtime Greenwich Street standby El Faro Restaurant last week after health inspectors found evidence of mice and improper sanitation practices.

The 822 Greenwich St. Spanish restaurant, which opened in 1927, was hit with 57 violation points for "evidence of mice or live mice present," improper handling of food to prevent cross-contamination and improperly maintained plumbing, according to the city's website.

El Faro, whose old-time menu includes everything from tapas to paella, was also cited on Friday, Sept. 28, for a lack of signs posted at sinks about hand-washing.

Metal gates were pulled closed over the windows of El Faro Tuesday morning. No one responded to knocks at the door, and the restaurant's phone had been disconnected.

The restaurant received a warning from the Health Department May 1, when it issued El Faro 58 violation points, citing the eatery for mice, improper hand-washing facilities and cold food being kept at temperatures that were too warm, city records show.

Queens residents Zona Schreiber and Mort Harrison, both 80, said they planned to return to El Faro if and when it reopened. They said they had gone to the restaurant for favorites like chicken ajillo and paella for more than 20 years.

"If it's a good restaurant, we feel that it will turn around," Schreiber said

West Village retail manager Michael Nitis, 36, said he would also come back despite the violations.

"It's a staple. It's where I had my first date," he said. "It's just part of this neighborhood."

On the restaurant's website, owner Mark Lugris, who did not respond to a request for comment, touted the restaurant's dependability.

"El Faro is the same as it was when [customers'] parents came here on their first date, 30 years ago!: he wrote. "They can sit in the same booth, eat out of the same pot, the food is the same as when they first came!"

Under the restaurant grading system, which the city introduced in July 2010, the Health Department immediately closes restaurants and bars with "conditions that may be hazardous to public health," according to its website. An establishment that receives 28 or more violation points gets a "C" grade, the lowest mark it can receive before being shuttered.