Hoylman: Restaurants are taking the heat for delayed gas service

Frank’s Trattoria went without gas for eight weeks earlier this year following a gas leak at a nearby building. It is still in business, though others that have gone through lengthy periods without gas were less fortunate. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this year, Frank’s Trattoria, a pizzeria and restaurant across from Peter Cooper Village, went eight weeks without gas to cook with following a gas leak at a neighboring building. The roughly two months spent without gas was due to delays in getting inspections from Con Ed as well as getting all the necessary paperwork from Department of Buildings. The owners at the time told Town & Village they were trying to stay afloat by cooking what menu items they could using electric stoves they purchased. However, they still lost a lot of business since they couldn’t make pizza that way and because the portable stoves took longer to cook with, some customers would choose not to wait.

The owners told us they didn’t even know how much they lost, but it’s possible the amount was $140,000.

Apparently, this is the average loss to Manhattan businesses that had the same problem in recent years, who also had an average wait of 68 days for the gas to go back on. Those figures are the result of a study conducted by the office of state Senator Brad Hoylman, with owners of businesses being interviewed through a survey.

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First Avenue restaurant hasn’t had gas in eight weeks (UPDATED)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

UPDATE at 3 p.m.: According to the manager, the gas was turned on at 1 p.m. today and pizza is once again available.

By Sabina Mollot

At a pizzeria and restaurant across from Peter Cooper Village, a gas shutdown is responsible for taking the business’s bread and butter for the past eight weeks.

That’s when the gas was shut off at Frank’s Trattoria by Con Ed, and since then the First Avenue business has been able to cook some of its dishes after bringing in four electric stoves, although pizza still can’t be prepared there. A manager, Marcello Vasquez, told Town & Village pizza accounted for close to half of Frank’s business. As for the other meal options, the restaurant’s lost business there too because it takes longer to cook with the electric stoves and customers aren’t always willing to wait, Vazquez explained.

He added that the problem started when a building on the corner of East 21st Street had a gas leak on December 18, leaving the restaurant, between East 21st and 22nd Streets, with inadequate gas to cook with. The owners called Con Ed who said the leak was coming from Frank’s and said the restaurant needed a new meter. The gas was then shut off.

But Vazquez now believes it was a mistake to call Con Ed instead of first calling a plumber. The restaurant did later have a plumber come and replace the pipes. The employee said on Friday he was since told that the gas could come back on Monday or Tuesday. “But,” he added, “we already have seven weeks. This is crazy.”

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Two ST buildings left with no gas due to leak

By Sabina Mollot

Since October 31, a gas leak at 272 and 274 First Avenue has left residents without gas in their buildings. The laundry room has been out of use as well since then.

In a flyer that was posted by CompassRock on November 4, management explained that the shutdown was done by Con Ed so emergency repairs could be conducted on the main gas line.

The note to residents went on to say management was working with the utility to ensure that gas would be restored “as safely and as quickly as possible.”

However, the memo also said that gas isn’t expected to be turned on again until Con Ed approves each apartment line after repairs.

Sidney Alvarez, a spokesperson for Con Ed, said on the 31st, the utility had been called about a gas odor and upon arrival, inspectors found that there was a gas leak on the extension service traced to a gas meter room.

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Letters to the Editor, Apr. 11

Another gas leak that didn’t smell

Re: “Resident concerned over gas leak in apt,” T&V, Mar. 28

I had a gas leak in my apartment several years ago. And you could not smell it in the kitchen.

I noticed the smell of gas in the hallway on my floor, and more of it just inside the apartment door. So I checked in the kitchen; the jets were all off, and there was no smell of gas. So I wrongly concluded it had come from some other apartment.

A couple of days later a group of neighbors rang my bell and said I must have a gas leak. They had smelt it in the hallway and it seemed strongest near the door of my apartment. We called Stuy Town security and the man who came verified my claim that there was no smell of gas in the kitchen. The neighbors were not satisfied. Two more security officers came and they agreed there was an odor of gas in the hallway and near my apartment door, but not in the kitchen. Finally they brought in a device that dings in the presence of gas and the device went berserk.

The leak was in the connection between the gas pipe and the tube that leads to the range.

Why could it not be detected by a person’s unaided nose in the kitchen? I think the answer is that, because there is no window in the hallway, the building has an exhaust system that draws air out of the hallway and replaces it with air drawn out of the apartments by suctioning it from under the apartment doors.

Air, including gas, in the kitchen is therefore pulled to the apartment door. Since all the gas cannot get out through the small space under the door, it builds up at that place, and you can smell it there.

Don Murray, ST

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