Something fishy was going on at an Upper East Side sushi restaurant this week. In just ten minutes, we witnessed a steady stream of delivery workers going in and out of Sushi Para Monday night as if nothing were out of the ordinary, picking up orders and racing on their electric bicycles to bring hungry Upper East Side residents their orders. What the delivery workers — and the customers who placed their orders through apps — didn’t know is that Sushi Para was still under closure orders by the NYC Health Department over sanitary violations, had not undergone a re-inspection and was displaying a forged the letter grade in the window, Upper East Site has confirmed.
Upper East Site first discovered that Sushi Para, located at 1457 Third Avenue, between East 82nd and 83rd Streets on the Upper East Side, was open and still serving customers, flouting the Health Department’s closure orders back on Friday, March 17th.
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Delivery workers were seen going in empty-handed and leaving with bags of food during the lunch rush. A worker inside was seen behind the counter coordinating pickups and even offered to take a takeout order from us.
Four days earlier, on March 13th, the restaurant was ordered closed during an inspection which revealed 10 sanitary violations, most of them critical, accounting for 58 violation points and forcing the restaurant to shut down.
According to the inspection report, Sushi Para has problems with rodents, including mice and rats, as well as live roaches and filth flies — the type associated with sewage or garbage. At that time, the inspector found that the restaurant didn’t even have a contract with a pest control company and didn’t keep any required extermination records on site.
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The Health Department inspector also noted that hot foods were being kept at dangerously cool temperatures, which runs the risk of getting customers sick. In addition, food and equipment were not being protected from potential sources of contamination.
Following Upper East Site’s inquiry about the restaurant’s reopening, the Health Department shut down the restaurant a second time on March 20th — the agency confirming to us that Sushi Para had not been reinspected or given permission to begin serving customers once again.
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“Closed by order of the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene,” read the bright yellow notice stuck to the defiant sushi shop’s glass front door, just above a sign reading that the restaurant is open for takeout and delivery orders only.
Two weeks later, on Monday night, a reader reached out with a tip that Sushi Para was once again back in business, the bright yellow closure notice once again missing from its front door.
Upper East Site found exactly what the tipster had described: delivery workers busy locking up their electric bikes, going into the restaurant to pick up their orders and bring them to the waiting customers. At one point there were four delivery workers simultaneously in front of the restaurant, which appeared to be fairly busy.
What we also noticed was the large ‘C’ letter grade — the kind issued by the Health Department after an inspection — in a window only visible when walking north on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.
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However, this inspection grade bears the date February 25, 2020 — before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York City — and has been altered with permanent marker in an attempt to make it appear that the date is from 2023.
Upper East Site reached out once again to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which confirmed to us the the ‘C’ grade was from a prior inspection and the restaurant was still under closure order.
At the restaurant on Tuesday, Sushi Para’s storefront featured not one, but two of the Health Department closure notices. The restaurant was also marked as closed on Grubhub.
It remains to be seen whether it will stay that way. Representatives for Sushi Para could not be reached for comment.
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