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Gay Cowboy Bar Flaming Saddles Shut Down by Health Department

By Mathew Katz | May 15, 2013 10:55am | Updated on May 15, 2013 3:41pm
 Inspectors found a host of violations at Flaming Saddles.
Flaming Saddles
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HELL'S KITCHEN — Gay cowboy bar Flaming Saddles was shut down by the city's Department of Health Monday after an inspection revealed its kitchen was dirtier than a frontier campsite.

The hot spot — which features sultry bartenders who two-step on the bar and serves dishes like "Frito Pie" — was letting hot food get cold, had improper plumbing and had a food preparation counter that was "improperly constructed," the inspection report said.

Inspectors also found "filth flies" in the bar, food that was "contaminated" and "cross-contaminated," and that the kitchen's supervisor didn't have proper food protection certification. It racked up a total of 61 violation points, according to the inspection.

Chris Barnes, the bar's co-owner, said that the inspectors came while the managers who held proper food protection certification were away overseeing a calendar photoshoot.

"One of our busboys told us we had his Health Department certification," Barnes said. It turned out he didn't, "so we got fined for that."

He added that fruit flies were found in the bar's basement walls, not where food is prepared, and that food was found to be cold because inspectors arrived right when the bar opened — as food was warming up.

"We got a bum deal on this, that's the truth," Barnes said.

"We're a good, clean bar."

The bar reopened on Tuesday.

Flaming Saddles at 739 Ninth Ave. first opened in late 2011 and took the neighborhood's gay scene by storm with its nightly drink specials, country music and attractive bar staff.

The hotspot was named the city's Best Gay Bar in New York Magazine's 2012 Best of New York issue, and continues to get rave reviews on Yelp.