By: Reuvan Blau / New York Daily News
When Izzy Eidelman announced plans to open the city’s first kosher smokehouse, Jewish gourmands began to salivate.
But six months later and counting, the Crown Heights eatery still doesn’t have an opening date due to a multitude of pitfalls and a slew of city inspections still needed.
“We thought we’d be able to get this done quickly,” said Eidelman, 27, a Crown Heights native who says he was inspired by the “Wandering Que,” a popular popup purveyor of Kosher barbecue, to get into the business.
He expected to have Izzy’s BBQ Addiction opened by the fall, and says he never could have anticipated the delays.
“The process working with the city is just really slow. They make it really hard on small businesses.”
He’s not alone.
In a city that thrives on “instant,” it takes more than seven months, on average, for most restaurants and small businesses to launch, city records show.
“There’s a lot of pressure and it’s expensive to open a new restaurant,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of NYC Hospitality Alliance, a restaurant industry umbrella group. “So any snag that delays the opening can create a lot of stress.”
Not all the kitchen complications are due to the city’s strict zoning and permit regulations.
First, it took Eidelman six months to find the right spot to call home.
“In Crown Heights now, real estate is at a premium,” he said. “The space we found is really small, but we felt like we had to make our move. We are willing to make it work.”
The 600-square-foot location on 397 Troy Ave. seats only 24 people — and 10 more can sit outside during the summer.
Eidelman and his business partner, Jacob Baitz, then waited for a month for the city Department of Buildings to approve their interior renovation plans for the eatery.
In November, the contractor forgot to file some of the requisite paperwork, and the city slapped the place with a dreaded stop work order. That halted construction for more than a month.
“We got a new permit the next day, but the city also required us to get the stop work order removed,” Eidelman recalled.
Any minor changes need to be approved by city inspectors, which have also led to multiple delays
Another major headache is the restaurant’s all-wood smoker from Texas, which cost nearly $30,000,
Eidelman said he repeatedly reached out to the Fire Department to find out how to get it up to code with the right exhaust — and couldn’t get the info he needed.
“I probably called the FDNY 20 times. I got 20 different answers,” he said.
He said he didn’t realize the entire process would take this long and estimated the delays have cost well over $100,000.
City officials say they have been working to ease the bureaucratic morass.
In 2010, the Bloomberg administration launched the NYC Business Acceleration program to help new restaurants go through the permitting process more quickly.
“Taking half a year or more to open a business costs entrepreneurs valuable time and money — that’s why we plan to continue expanding business services to help decrease the average time it takes to cut through red tape and open a restaurant by over two months,” Small Business Services spokeswoman Merideth Weber told the Daily News.
The program has grown from 258 restaurants in 2010 to approximately 7,000 in 2014, records show.
Restaurants and other new businesses that avail themselves of the program can open in about four to five months, compared to the more than seven month average, according to the city.
Some, like Eidelman, only hear about the program after months of struggling through the bureaucratic morass.
He’s now fixing plumbing problems that suddenly surfaced right before what he was hoping would be his last city inspection.
Kosher customers can hardly wait.
That includes City Councilman David Greenfield, an Orthodox Jew, who offered to help with any “bureaucratic trouble,” according to a message he posted on Izzy’s BBQ Addiction’s Facebook page last year.
“I’m hoping within a month or six weeks we can open,” Eidelman said. “I’m used to doing stuff quickly and unfortunately when you work with the city it’s not like that at all.”