Hey, there! Log in / Register

City says owner of shuttered Allston roast-beef place is full of, well, not roast beef

The owner of Roast Beast on Commonwealth Avenue got himself quite the social-media ride over the weekend, after he suddenly shut down with a sign saying it's all the fault of Massachusetts and Marty Walsh for forcing him to install an expensive ventilation system in his kitchen.

City officials are saying: Yeah, not quite, that they were willing to work with D.J. Lawton and let him replace a couple of electric flat-top griddles with a panini press but that he refused that and told inspectors he'd just shut the place down - and then he did.

At issue were two electric griddles Roast Beast had in its kitchens. According to city records, Lawton told an ISD health inspector on Oct. 25 that he only used them for toasting bread - but the inspector noticed a build-up of grease on sprinklers and the ceiling above the griddles, which could only come from using the griddles for actually cooking things, rather than just toasting bread. And the state fire code requires proper ventilation and a fire-suppression system for restaurant cooking.

According to city records, after the inspection, ISD forwarded the inspector's report to the Boston Fire Department. On Oct. 30, a BFD inspector visited Roast Beast and ordered Lawton to immediately remove the two griddles until he installed proper ventilation and extinguishers for them. But, in a return visit the next day, a fire inspector told Lawon he could eliminate the need for a ventilation system by replacing the griddles with a panini press - which would let him toast bread but not cook anything - and that he could have 30 days to make the switch.

Instead, records show, Lawton said no, he would simply shut the restaurant altogether - and so the inspector never forwarded him a formal remediation order he wrote up that would allow the panini press changeover.

In a statement, Jerome Smith, Boston's chief of civic engagement said:

The Walsh Administration has made clear that we want to work with any small business owner to ensure they can be successful here in Boston. There is some work to be done to ensure that Roast Beast is operating safely but every department involved is more than willing to work with Roast Beast to help them through that process.

10/25 inspection report (2.5M PDF).
10/30 order (77k PDF).
10/31 remediation followup (46k PDF).

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 

Ad:

Do you like how UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

I went there once, and I seem to recall he was sauteing onions on those griddles. But I'm not sure my memory is correct. In any case, I think he handled this in a very immature way.

up
Voting closed 40

Don't get me wrong... the hoops a restaurateur has to jump through are absurd. We are WAY too strict about the food industry in this country.

BUT I've worked in enough restaurants to know that you don't sling roast beef sandos and use flattop grills for "only toasting bread"... this dude's story was full of more holes than swiss cheese.

RIP to a place I would never go anyway, but sympathize with the absurd rules that got it shut down.

via YELP
https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/roast-beast-boston?select=yA7JKhixr0EPDJ...

up
Voting closed 17

Just about every fire safety and food safety regulation exists because there were dead bodies and burnt out buildings when they didn't.

up
Voting closed 90

Did "absurd rules [get this place shut down]" or did the dude lying about his cooking process and then flaming out really do them under? Pick one.

up
Voting closed 45

has a serious attitude problem, if he refuses to invest in an expensive ventilation system in order to prevent fires, keep himself and his patrons/customers safe, and was not utterly truthful about his cooking process, and decides to just permanently blame the State of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Boston for it, rather than look in the mirror, if one gets the drift. This guy has no sense of responsibility, obviously.

up
Voting closed 13

You couldn't leave that place without reeking like onions.

up
Voting closed 5

The BFD inspector is probably a fan of chronicle on channel 5. Lawton is shown on the segment cooking the beef on the griddles.

up
Voting closed 33

Yeah, he's totally grilling the roast beef and the onions on the griddles, as well as his, um, interesting approach to filet mignon (don't know what the BFD regulations are regarding that).

up
Voting closed 23

Also, no, dude, grilling the roast beef is not the "Massachusetts way". Pathetic of Chronicle to pick this guy's business to puff when there are dozens (if not hundreds) of small, independent roast beef joints who do it the right way.

up
Voting closed 34

The same program that Channel 5 arrogantly decides to preempt MeTV programming for every night.

Is WCVB so out of touch that they believe people who tune into a classic TV channel really want to watch a newsmagazine instead?

up
Voting closed 5

It's not like that poses any particular risks in a kitchen without any fire-suppression system, I'm sure.

up
Voting closed 28

You can fire up some shatter and get really wasted.

up
Voting closed 12

That's a fact.

up
Voting closed 6

I'm shocked he wasn't shut down for egregious use of the 1992 Adobe Typeface library. Can anyone confirm the menu used a playful mix of Comic Sans and Papyrus?

up
Voting closed 9

On Yelp, it looks like a mix of Papyrus and good old Times New Roman. I'm not going to post it here because it hurts my eyes (although I do get a warm flood of mid-90s nostalgia from the Papyrus).

up
Voting closed 2

Hope his employees can appreciate his whining- sorry his principles while they try to find new jobs

up
Voting closed 20

who is family friendly, business friendly and for the working class residents of the City. Boston is more than just developers.

up
Voting closed 18

Being family friendly and for the working class residents of the city includes caring about fire safety in residential buildings.

up
Voting closed 48

who is probably a developer.

up
Voting closed 6

who is probably a developer.

who doesn't give a shit about his tenants, either, or about bringing his properties up to code and properly maintaining them, either.

up
Voting closed 4

the code he was violating is the code in all states too so there's that

up
Voting closed 15

The fire inspector is just trying to cover his ass, he was extremely rude, unprofessional, and violated state ethics codes by specifically recommending a friend of his to perform the remediation work that he decided was required. I was witness to his extortionate behavior, he should definitely be removed from his position immediately. Being told to comply with building/fire codes is one thing, getting shaken down is something else all together and standing up for yourself and speaking out is what any true patriot would do.

up
Voting closed 4

Seeing as you're a witness to all this, why didn't DJ just switch to a panini press instead of crying about Big Brother and closing his restaurant?

Bizarre how you and DJ are using this language about tyranny when all the city wants to not have a building get burned down due to zoning violations. I hope Roast Beast's new location in rules free Somalia works out for you both.

up
Voting closed 16

I was witness to his extortionate behavior, he should definitely be removed from his position immediately.

Who did you report this extortion to?

standing up for yourself

By this, I assume you mean "quitting and going home".

up
Voting closed 16