Is the Mission Chinese Backyard Dining Room Illegal?

Posted on: January 9th, 2013 at 6:09 am by
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Mission Chinese Food is a culinary juggernut, attracting crowds from all neighborhoods for a taste of Danny Bowien’s west coast style at 154 Orchard Street. Lines and loitering near the entrance are par for the course these days. Take-out isn’t so much the hassle, but scoring a seat in the back patio enclosure is the ticket. If you can actually nab a reservation, that is. But how safe is it really back there? And is the converted room actually legal?

One concerned tipster is raising red flags about the building and safety of this rear dining area. Up until 2008, the patio had been open to the elements. With the arrival of Bia Garden the next year, an aluminum frame was built and covered with clear ceiling to shelter the site. However, its composition evolved during the interim (i.e. Chinito, Rhong Tiam Express, etc.), and is now allegedly an unhealthy sandwich of plastic, wood, and tar-paper. The flammable covering coupled with lack of safe egress would appear to create a terrible fire hazard here.

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Technically speaking, however, all this should be moot considering the building owner only carries a temporary Certificate of Occupancy, and not even for the open rear space. According to the DOB database, 26-plus violations have accrued (and resolved) since 2004, most stemming from alleged illegal construction!

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Now it seems the DOB is again on the offenseive – a hearing has been scheduled for tomorrow (January 10) to discuss the C of O violation behind this illegal enclosure.

NOTED AT REAR YARD ROOF OF WOOD ON TOP OF METAL TRUSS & WOOD CENTER BEAM SPANNING SOUTH TO NORTH USE OF WOOD IN FIRE CODE(DISTRICT)ROLL ROOF TAR PAPER.REMEDY:OBTAIN ALL PERMITS &/OR APPROVALS

One can’t help but conjure memories of the fatal Happy Land Social Club fire that killed 87 trapped patrons back in 1990. In that instance, there was one egress, with fire exits blocked to prevent people from sneaking in.

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[June 2011]

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