Lenny’s Hoagies health code violations case tabled until December

A Roxborough deli owner was in municipal court this week trying to resolve a health code violations case that he says began because he crossed an inspector.

Lenny Bracale, who with his late father Lennie (the slight spelling difference is intentional), have run their popular hoagie shop, Lenny’s Hoagies, at 6141 Ridge Ave. since 1999. He said trouble began in January, when a city health inspector came into his store during a rush of customers before a Sunday NFL game and announced an inspection.

Bracale said he first asked the inspector for identification, something he said is part of the procedure business owners are taught, and he believes she was offended. He said he asked the health inspector to come back in 15 minutes, but she wouldn’t, and the two got into an argument. The business was cited for refusing a health inspection.

Later, the hoagie shop was closed down for one day, March 1, for violating a requirement that the business have a worker who has passed the food safety certification course on site at all times. Bracale and other business owners have said the requirement makes it difficult for small business owners to do catering deliveries and respond to emergencies, as they have to shut down if they leave the premises.

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Another later inspection showed a rodent trap and some evidence of droppings, but Bracale and his exterminator told Municipal Court Judge Bradley K. Moss that was in a storage closet, nowhere near the food service or customer areas.

There is also question about inspection fees and penalties Bracale should have to pay related to the case. The shop was co-owned by the father and son and called Lennie’s Home Plate until the elder Bracale passed away, after which his son filed paperwork to change the business name. The city contends that meant a change in ownership, requiring all new certifications and inspections, something Bracale is also disputing.

He said he feels he is being harassed, and that the fines against him amount to extortion, a penalty because he stood up to an inspector who, he says, was being unreasonable.

The case will continue at 9 a.m. on Dec. 6 in City Hall Courtroom 446.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at azquinn@planphilly.com.

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