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Martha’s Country Bakery in Forest Hills Shut Down by the Health Dept., Prompts Social Media Outcry

Martha’s Country Bakery in Forest Hills, pictured, was shut down by the Health Dept. Monday (Photos Provided to Queens Post)

Aug. 25, 2021 By Christian Murray

A Forest Hills bakery known for its long lines and popular pastries has been closed by the Health Dept.—prompting an avalanche of criticism from residents.

Martha’s County Bakery on Austin Street, which is part of a Queens-based bakery chain, was shut down by the Health Dept. on Monday, according to city records. The other Martha’s locations—in Astoria, Bayside and Williamsburg—remain open.

The Austin Street establishment was hit with a number of violations, with an inspector finding flies, contaminated surfaces and employees wearing unclean garments. Patch was first to report the story.

Signage posted Monday by the DOH at Martha’s Country Bakery at 70-28 Austin St. (Photo provided to Queens Post)

A Forest Hills resident posted a picture to a popular Facebook group of a Dept. of Health notice saying that Martha’s had been ordered “Closed.”

The resident also posted a photo put up by the owners that claimed the store had been shuttered stemming from plumbing issues.

“Due to plumbing issues and construction work we will be closed until further notice,” the notice read.

The abrupt closure has led to flurry of Facebook comments since Monday. By Wednesday afternoon, more than 230 comments had been posted.

“This place was so dirty the last time I went there, I am surprised the health department didn’t close it sooner,” one commenter said.

Another said: “It must have been really bad for the health department to close them.”

Several residents criticized the bakery for making it appear that the closure was construction related.  “That “plumbing issue” letter is bulls$$t,” one person wrote. Another said: “It has nothing to do with construction it was a fly infestation!!”

Signage posted this week by the owners of Martha’s Country Bakery at 70-28 Austin St. (Photo provided to Queens Post)

But the popular bakery does have fans.

“Glad it’s only temporary. I need my caramel mousse cake,” wrote one person.

“NOOOOOOOO, how will I survive without my weekly carrot cake!” read another comment.

“So sad! I love their pastries.”

The bakery racked up a whopping 66 points. The DOH assigns points based on each infringement and the level risk it presents. For instance, critical violations carry a minimum of 5 points each.

An eatery scores an A grade when it scores between 0-13 points; a B when it is between 14-27; and a C for 28 or more.

The Health Dept., however, typically only closes a venue down when a violation cannot be corrected at the time of inspection.

Martha’s DOH Violations

1)            Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, trans                 portation, display or service.
2)            Personal cleanliness inadequate. Outer garment soiled with possible contaminant. Effective                   hair restraint not worn in an area where food is prepared.
3)            Wiping cloths soiled or not stored in sanitizing solution.
4)            Hot food item not held at or above 140º F.
5)            Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following                 any activity when contamination may have occurred.
6)            Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-                 food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies,
bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies                     and Phorid flies.
7)            Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the                            premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
8)            Non-food contact surface improperly constructed. Unacceptable material used. Non-food con                 tact surface or equipment improperly maintained and/or not properly sealed, raised,
spaced or movable to allow accessibility for cleaning on all sides, above and underneath the                 unit.

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