Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smokin Als BBQ

Barbecue battle heats up in Massapequa Park

Al Horowitz at his Smokin' Al's in Massapequa Park. (Photo by Joel Cairo / June 22, 2009)

Al Horowitz describes the scent wafting from his eatery in Massapequa Park as the "sweet aroma of barbecue." But people who live near Smokin' Al's say the smell isn't so sweet when you smell it every day.

"It's a nice smell when you smell it for the first time," said Josephine Strassel, 43, who lives across the street. "But when you have to smell it from when you wake up to when you go to sleep, it's nauseating."

Since the restaurant opened in November, Horowitz has been locked in a battle with the village and his neighbors over the smoky scent of slow-cooking pork, brisket and ribs, as well as all the traffic the business draws.

Horowitz said he tried to address the odor concerns by installing a $10,000 double-filtration system over his barbecue smokers. But village officials say it's not enough and have issued him four summonses - three in the past two months for failing to do something about the odors.

He is scheduled to appear in Village Court on July 17.

Mayor James Altadonna said Smokin' Al's was given a certificate of occupancy with the caveat that there be "zero odor or minimal odor."

"It's an ongoing problem for the people who live around the restaurant," Altadonna said.

Horowitz said he had considered installing an air-cleaning system that would mostly eliminate the odors. But a price tag of about $200,000 and an installation process that would require him to close for up to two weeks discouraged him.

At this point, Horowitz said, he has done everything he is willing to do.

"I never promised that there would never be a smell," he said.

His attorney, Gary Weintraub of Huntington, has filed a motion to dismiss the charges, saying that the village code neither defines what a noxious or offensive odor is nor how it constitutes a public nuisance.

He also filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Nassau County, asking that the village code be deemed unconstitutional because of its vagueness and an injunction be issued against further summonses.

For residents, the problems go beyond the smell.

Tim Terranova, who lives next door to the restaurant, said customers not only park in front of his house and block his driveway, but also occasionally park in his driveway - which never happened when an auto-parts store or flower shop occupied the space.

"It's unliveable here," said Terranova, 55. "That restaurant has ruined the neighborhood."

To free up parking for customers, Horowitz said he purchased $40 municipal parking permits for his staff.

Horowitz said the complaints - which he hasn't experienced at his six-year-old Bay Shore restaurant - have left him weary.

"I'm a barbecue guy," he said. "It's what I love to do. I don't love getting into lawsuits and battles."


Anonymous said...

People should leave AL alone...It is a great restaurant..Maybe people should not buy houses so close to Merrick Road near businesses. He already dished out 10k for a filtration unit but putting in a 200k unit and closing for that much time? Maybe these residents should contribute to the cost of that. This is ridiculous!! Maybe the residents would just like an abandoned building and watch their surrounding area look like crap. People always just need something to complain about. People should be proud of Al that in these hard economic times, he has manged to open a 2nd restaurant and it does much better than any restaurant around. What I really want to know is..How many times have these complaining residents been to Al's to eat???

Anonymous said...

Was this post Al? ;)
You a ridiculous!!
But lets not forget who was there first.. These residents have every right to compalin.

Now I am an East Meadow resident, but I know for sure I'd be dam pissed if I lived that close to the restaruant.

These people can't even back out of there own driveway, and they are complaining for no reason.

Put yourselves in their shoes. Sure BBQ smells great, but 24/7, come on.