Two businesses that operate jointly at 192 Grand St. in Little Italy, Florio's Restaurant and the 192 Grand Street Cigar and Trading Company, filed a complaint yesterday in a Manhattan court against the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for issuing more than 50 smoking violations to the restaurant.
The establishment, founded in 1962, used to bill itself as "smoking-friendly" but claims it changed policies to abide by the city's Smoke-Free Air Act. The violations issued by the city's health department charge the Italian restaurant with failing to make a "good faith" effort to stop customers from smoking illegally within the premises.
According to the complaint, the premises of Florio's are "replete" with "No Smoking" signs, there are no ashtrays, and employees are instructed to ask smokers to extinguish their tobacco products.
The complaint points specifically to an incident in which a bartender at a nearby business had a violent confrontation with a customer over smoking, and was put into a coma for almost a year. The owner of Florio's, Lawrence Ameruso, said he did not know the full name of that bartender.
He said the business had applied for a license to allow patrons of the cigar bar to smoke on the premises, but, to date, the city has not issued one.
A call to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was not immediately returned.