Follow Roosevelt Islander On:




Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Cafe @ Cornell Tech Receives C Grade From NYC Department Of Health Restaurant Inspection, Management Apologies To Roosevelt Island Community And Promises Improvements - Students Ready To Cross Invisible Tram/Subway Barrier And Try Out Nisi Restaurant

Last Sunday, I visited the Roosevelt Island  Cafe @ Cornell Tech to order my favorite Mango Smoothie. I was very surprised and disappointed to find this NYC Department of Health (DOH) Restaurant Inspection Grade C sign posted next to the Coffee/Juice Bar.

According to an October 5, 2018 NYC DOH Restaurant Inspection Report for the Cafe @ Cornell Tech:

Violation points: 37

Sanitary Violations

1) Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.

2) Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.

3) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
Yesterday, I asked Cornell Tech representatives to comment on the failed restaurant health inspection report and received this reply from the Cafe @ Cornell Tech Management, Constellation Culinary Group:
October 22, 2018

Dear Roosevelt Island Community:

Our company, Constellation Culinary Group (formerly Starr Catering Group), has been operating The Café @ Cornell Tech since 2017. We have had restaurants, cafés and catering businesses in New York City since 2011 and today we operate 18 locations throughout the city.

On Friday, October 5, The Café was inspected by the New York City Health Department and regrettably received a ‘C.’ The only grade that is acceptable to us is an ‘A.’ We have failed to meet that expectation and are profoundly sorry for not fulfilling our commitment to all of you, our valued guests.

Food safety is our top priority and we have committed significant resources to immediately address this situation. We have already implemented the following corrective measures and are looking to schedule a follow-up inspection in the very near future.

With full transparency, the grade was the result of the following key issues:
  • The presence of fruit and food flies in the kitchen and dry storage room.
  • Standing water on the kitchen floor beneath the dishwasher and sink.
  • Food particle build up on the floors of the dry goods storage room.
  • Required maintenance of ice machines not carried out per specification.
We want to assure you that our daily food handling practices, including the use of gloves for ready-to-eat foods and food held and served at the correct temperatures, were not an issue.

We took immediate action following the inspection, including completing the following corrective measures:
  • We have replaced our General Manager effective immediately with a new General Manager, Christopher Lewis, who brings more than 15 years of foodservice operational leadership experience to the team.
  • We have re-assigned supervision to Vice President of Operations, Rob Esplen, who has been onsite, working with the management team over the past two weeks.
  • We have selected a new pest management provider who has already carried out its services with excellent results. Based on industry best practices, the exterminator is providing eco-friendly, FDA-approved treatments every three days until the problem is completely eradicated.
  • We made necessary plumbing repairs to correct the standing water issue.
  • We completed necessary maintenance to the ice machines.
  • We hired a third-party sanitation and food safety consulting firm to remain on
  • site this past week to conduct refresher cleaning and sanitation training with the team and implement best practices across the operation. This firm will conduct follow-up visits on a monthly basis moving forward to monitor progress.
  • We have installed door sweeps on all kitchen doors
If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact Scott Steenrod, Managing Director, at


Simon Powles, CEO
Scott Steenrod Managing Director
The Cafe has become a favorite spot for many Roosevelt Island residents and visitors,

and you can't beat the views from the outdoor patio, even in cold weather.

But, I have heard grumblings from Cornell Tech students who have not been happy with the food offering at the Cafe. These students are ready to cross the invisible Roosevelt Island Tram/Subway barrier to Main Street and try out the Nisi Restaurant and any new restaurant that may open in the future.

Below is the most recent NYC DOH Health Inspection Restaurant Grades for Roosevelt Island.

All received A's except for the Cafe @ Cornell Tech C Grade.

Here's how NYC DOH scores and grades restaurants.

Figment NYC Hosting Roosevelt Island Community Meeting Tonight, October 23, To Discuss Lighthouse Park Public Art Project & Festival - You're Invited To Learn How To Particiapate As Artist, Creator & Team Member

As previously reported:

Roosevelt Island's Lighthouse Park

will be hosting Figment NYC's City Of Dreams Pavilion on June 1-2, 2019....
According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
FIGMENT, one of the country's largest participatory art events, is hosting a community meeting with RI residents tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd to discuss its coming June event on the Island.

Here's more info on Figment NYC Roosevelt Island lighthouse Park project.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Today In Roosevelt Island History, 1932 Welfare Island Prison Riot - 86 Years Later, Home To Cornell Tech

According to the Brooklyn Eagle:
ON THIS DAY IN 1932, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, “Police headquarters and the office of Mayor [Joseph] McKee were informed just before noon today that a riot of dangerous proportions had broken out on Welfare Island [now Roosevelt Island], on which the City Prison is located. The mayor was informed that one man had been killed in the rioting....
Click here for the full article and to learn more.

Here's a 1933 image of the Welfare Island Penitentiary

from NYPL Digital Collection.

The Bowery Boys have more on the Welfare (Blackwell's) Island Prison:
... A prison was one of the first things built on then-Blackwell’s Island in 1832. A north wing was added to the prison to accommodate inmates transported from a facility next door to Bellevue Hospital. (The mental patients of Bellevue would make a similar journey to Blackwell’s asylum at around the same time.) The five-story L-shaped building had a granite, medieval-looking facade and 800 cells, much of it filled to capacity through most of its existence.

The prison fomented little idleness. Male inmates from there and the adjoining 220-cell workhouse (essentially a correctional facility for “drunks and disorderlies”) were used either in the quarry or to build many of the island’s structures, including a seawall around the perimeter...
... By the 20th century, gangs of prisoners virtually ran the place. It would become the inspiration for dozens of pulp novels and films, including one actually called Blackwell’s Island.

After a few sorry reforms — including the name change to Welfare Island — produced few results, it was up to can-do mayor Fiorello Laguardia and his hire for corrections commissioner Austin H. MacCormick to raid the prison and transport its remaining inmates to the newly built Rikers Island. The Welfare Island prison was quickly torn down and replaced by Goldwater Hospital, today the Coler-Goldwater Memorial,...
The former site of the Welfare Island Prison is now home to the Cornell Tech campus.

SPONSORED POST - Roosevelt Island Urgent Care Medical Facility, Just Walk In At 520 Main Street 7 Days A Week For Your Medical Needs - Your Health, Your Schedule

According to Roosevelt Island Urgent Care (RIUC):

Our Roosevelt Island facility is  located at 520 Main Street. Our Office hours are Monday to Thursday 9AM - 5PM, Friday 9 AM - 4 PM, Saturday and Sunday 10AM- 3 PM. Phone # 646-977-7974.

The medical needs of this 2 mile long historic island on the East River is a perfect landscape for our services.

RIUC is the first health care facility on the Island. Currently local residents must travel to either Manhattan or Astoria, for treatment—a trip that requires the use of a tram, subway, bus or car. Our facility in essence created a full-service medical center for a growing population of 15,000. RIUC is here to serve your needs.

These needs will increase in the near future with the addition of new multi-family developments and the new Cornell NYC Tech campus, which is under construction and due to open this year. The University is relying on our center to tend to the medical needs of the students and faculty. Roosevelt Island Urgent Care is also well positioned to provide services to the many construction workers who are on the Island during the next few years.

Other amenities include:
  • Hot and cold complimentary beverage center
  • Charging station
  • Flat screen TV in waiting room as well as every exam room
  • Childrens play area
  • And much more!
Take a tour of the Roosevelt Island Urgent Care facilities

and learn about the services offered at Roosevelt Island Urgent Care.

More info about Roosevelt Island Urgent Care at their web site and Twitter Page.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Roosevelt Island 2018 Public Purpose Grants Community Review Process October 21 & 25 - Up To $150 Thousand Available To 10 Local Non Profit Groups, Public Invited To Attend

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Purpose Grants community review process begins tomorrow, October 21. According to RIOC:

Roosevelt Island Non-Profits Present Applications for Up to $150,000 in Public Grants Next Week

Each year, the RIOC Board of Directors approves the allocation of Public Purpose Funds to non-profit community organizations whose work benefits Roosevelt Island residents, enhances their quality of life, health or environment.

The annual fund awards – up to $150,000 total in 2018 - are recommended by the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) and are expected to be approved by the Board at its December 13 meeting.

The non-profits organizations will be making their presentations to the RIRA Public Purpose Funds Committee this Monday, October 22 at 7 p.m. and Thursday, October 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Good Shepherd Community Center, 543 Main Street. These presentations are open to the public.

For the presentation schedule and the list of the organizations that have applied, click here.
The Presentation Schedule is as follows.
October 22, 2018

7:00 PM - PS/IS 217M Parent-Teacher Association

7:30 PM - Life Frames

8:00 PM - Open Space Institute (IDig2Learn)

8:30 PM - Island Kids

9:00 PM - Roosevelt Island Disabled Association

Presentations will conclude at 9:30 PM

October 25, 2018

Presentations will begin at 7:30 PM

7:30 PM - Carter Burden Network

8:00 PM - Roosevelt Island Historical Society

8:30 PM - Main Street Theatre and Dance Alliance

9:00 PM - Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association

9:30 PM - Wildlife Freedom Foundation
RIOC adds:
Public Purpose Grants first became available after the construction of Manhattan Park in 1989, when New York State allowed the fund to be established in lieu of the developers paying sales tax on construction materials. The RIOC Board of Directors approves the allocation of these funds yearly based upon the recommendation of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA). Not-for-profit community organizations are welcome to apply for a Public Purpose Grant by following the application process below.

Public Purpose Grants should be allocated to benefit Roosevelt Island residents, enhancing their quality of life through education, artistic and cultural enrichment, improved health, or a better environment.

Additional Information about can be found in the Public Purpose Grant Procedures
The 2017 Roosevelt Island Public Purpose Grants were as follows (rationales for award amount at link):
  • PS/IS 217 Parent Teachers Association (PTA) - Amount Requested: $22,500 Amount Recommended: $15,000,
  • Life Frames, Inc. - Amount Requested: $19,900 Amount Recommended: $4,000,
  • Wildlife Freedom Foundation (WFF) - Amount Requested: $5,000 Amount Recommended: $5,000,
  • Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association (RIVAA) - Amount Requested: $42,000 Amount Recommended: $11,800, 
  • Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS), Amount Requested: $32,000 Amount Recommended: $12,000,
  • Island Kids - Amount Requested: $20,000 Amount Recommended: $15,000,
  • Main Street Theater and Dance Alliance - Amount Requested: $35,000 Amount Recommended: $18,000,
  • Roosevelt Island Swimming (Marlins) - Amount Requested: $11,637.50 Amount Recommended: $1200,
  • Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA) - Amount Requested: $18,000 Amount Recommended: $18,000.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Report From RIOC President Susan Rosenthal - NY State $25 Million Cornell Tech Payment Not Received Yet, Roosevelt Island Youth Center Update, Halloween Parade Theme Rock Icons, Veterans Celebration & More

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Susan Rosenthal reported to the October 18 RIOC Board of Directors meeting on the following subjects.

Various construction projects under way

NY State $25 million payment for Cornell Tech has not been received yet but will be coming soon.

Roosevelt Island Youth Center  update. Steady number of 40-50 kids using the facility daily. 220 kids have registered for Soccer program. Volunteer coaches needed. Basketball program to come. Robotics and coding program from Cornell Tech being planned.

Upcoming events.

October 27 Roosevelt island Halloween Parade theme is Rock icons yesterday and today.

November 10 Veterans Celebration.  RIOC leased space at 544 Main Street for a Veterans Center.

Holiday decorations. Ms Rosenthatl said:

... We heard what you liked and did not like last year. We've made improvements. Tell us what you think after they go up....
Improving ways of communications between RIOC and the Roosevelt Island community.

Ms. Rosenthal added:
... My door is always open. That's true for anyone on the Island....
Below is Ms Rosenthal's full RIOC President's Report.

The full Agenda and supporting Board material package for meeting is here.

RIOC Director David Kraut noted at the end of the Ms Rosenthal's report:
... The island is in better shape than its ever been and it's getting better, step by step, capital project by capital project.

Our main job is to sweep the streets, shovel the snow, cut the grass, take out the trash. We're doing very well....