By Ward Morehouse III, Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor New York — A man recently ordered Italian spaghetti at a local restaurant. His bill was over $850. The restaurant, the Beekman Place Cookshop, threw in the kitchen sink -- literally. It was an antique "early American dry sink," says owner Morton Levin and a bargain at that.
Meanwhile, a few blocks away, another restaurant sells designer clothes as well as lunch. And at La Residence, on Manhattan's Upper East Side, owner Georges Colovic will sell you the paintings on the walls.
For years, restaurants have sold items in their gift shops. Now, says the National Restaurant Association (NRA), diners can get items like sterling silver , clocks, clothes, slow-cooking pots, and -- if you don't mind waiting a bit longer -- food. It's all part of the crunch of competition that is forcing more and more restaurants to give you "a total experience," says NRA spokesman Elaine Raffel.
But while all this may produce smiles from patrons and restaurant owners, the New York City Health Department is warning these double-duty eateries that they must live up to cleanliness standards and that the added "clutter" is no excuse for more dirt.
About 1,300 restaurants a year are fined by the Health Department for various sanitary violations, according to assistant commissioner Charles Reisberg.
Code violations exist most often in the kitchens and food storage areas, but dining rooms are inspected as well. It is in the dining rooms that the nonfood merchandise is sold and the potential for unsanitary conditions exist, health department authorities say.