I read this story in the New York Times–Closing of Carnegie Deli Amid Con Ed Investigation Disappoints Diners–with chagrin.
The curtaining of the Carnegie disappointed a stream of hungry would-be customers on Monday, many of them tourists who went out of their way to test their tolerance for protein. It was the second case in a month in which a Manhattan deli was put out of business, at least temporarily, after utility inspectors found evidence of tampering with a gas line.
At the Carnegie Deli, however, Con Edison said about half of the gas that the utility was delivering to the building was being diverted before the meter and, therefore, not showing up on the deli’s bills.
After determining that the diversion had lasted six years, Con Edison demanded that the deli pay $40,050, the estimated cost to deliver all that unmeasured gas, said Bob McGee, a spokesman for the utility. He said the deli’s owner “cut us a check on the spot.”
My chagrin is directed at Con Ed. Boy have they been vigilant about diverted gas here and in other restaurants but weren’t vigilant about installing gas lines for several small New York restaurants, one of them Moscow57, despite the fact that the restaurants had properly applied for all permits necessary to get the gas they needed to run the restaurants.
But Con Ed failed to provide that gas line for many months and Moscow57, for one, could not offer their full hot-meal menu, could not fully publicize their opening, could not ask reviewers to come and write about them, and could not, therefore, attract a full complement of diners.
And with the Carnegie Deli, we’re not talking about a dangerous and improper gas line such as the one suspected of blowing up those buildings in the East Village–a PVC pipe made of plastic. We’re talking about gas taken from Con Ed without being paid for.
Moscow57 paid for everything and did everything they needed to do to get Con Ed to install their gas line on time. Con Ed failed to do it for nearly a year.
Carnegie Deli immediately wrote a check to Con Ed for the gas that was diverted. Will Con Ed immediately write a check to Moscow57 for their losses because Con Ed failed to provide the gas line?