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Strand Smokehouse Reopens After Being Shut Down for Barring Inspector

 The Strand Smokehouse at 25-27 Broadway in Astoria.
The Strand Smokehouse at 25-27 Broadway in Astoria.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

ASTORIA — A Queens barbecue joint that was temporarily shuttered after its owner turned away a Health Department inspector — in a stand against what he feels is the city's unfair grading process — has reopened.

The Strand Smokehouse, at 25-27 Broadway, reopened Thursday, according to owner Tommy Vasilis.

The eatery closed April 28, along with two bakeries called Bakeway which Vasilis also owns, when the restaurateur's permits were suspended for 20 days. The suspension came several months after a dispute with a health inspector, whom he told to leave.

"The Strand Smokehouse and both locations of Bakeway have all been authorized to open after they passed their re-opening inspections," the Health Department said in a statement.

The Bakeway at 25-21 Broadway was also back in business beginning Thursday, though the 30th Avenue Bakeway location was still closed Monday. Vasilis said he is hiring to replace some of the part-time and newer employees he lost during the shutdown.

"All of that we have to rebuild," he said.

Problems for the three eateries stemmed from an Aug. 1 incident when Vasilis took issue with a health inspector who came to look at The Strand and also attempted to inspect the Bakeway located a few doors down.

The inspector needed to check the ice machine and bathroom at Bakeway because they are shared with The Strand, according to the Health Department, which said Vasilis allegedly "used profanity in telling the inspector to leave and threw the inspector's equipment bag at him."

However, Vasilis — who denied tossing the bag — said the two businesses don't share a bathroom and are two separate entities, and felt he shouldn't be subjected to two inspections at once.

The restaurant owner, who faced off against another inspector several years ago, said he thinks the city's controversial letter-grading system is arbitrary and overly-punitive to business owners.

"It's not so much about the money so much as knowing that some guy is going to come in and put a C on your window for whatever reason," Vasilis told DNAinfo last month.

'You're helpless to it, and then you watch your business fail. People put their life savings into these small businesses."

According to the city's Health Code, restaurant owners cannot interfere with or obstruct an inspector, the Health Department said.