Controversial Arab-Owned Deli Cited For Food-Service Violations - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Controversial Arab-Owned Deli Cited For Food-Service Violations

CLEVELAND – The owner of a local deli says that he feeds thousands of people and that he runs a good, clean operation. The city, however, is threatening to shut his business down. The Investigator, Tom Meyer, looks at a controversial mini-mart in his Dirty Dining report.


It's hard to not notice Grandpa's Deli. The Arab-owned mini-mart proudly displays all sorts of controversial graffiti. The city is threatening criminal enforcement action against the store, not for its political points of view, but for what the city called its "failure to correct food-service violations."

"The citations that they have down here is (expletive)," owner Abe Ayad said.

When The Investigator questioned employees about potentially serious cross-contamination violations, he quickly wore out his welcome and was aggressively escorted out.

Employees said that the city is harassing the store simply because of its controversial displays.

"This is what the city is mad at," Ayad said. "This is the truth right here."

Cooler heads ultimately prevailed and Ayad explained that he agreed with only one violation: employees not wearing hair restraints. He called city inspectors incompetent and unqualified. He said one inspector failed to notice that the store was operating without a food-service license on the day that the inspector paid a visit.

"So if he was really doing his job the first thing he would have got me for would be an expired food-service license," Ayad said.

The city denies politics is behind the criminal enforcement action. Acting Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Willie Bess said that action is taken for one reason: repeated food-safety violations.

"You should serve the public in an operation that is definitely not going to spread potential for food-born illness," Bess said.

Food operations you will not see in court include the following three violation-free restaurants that were picked as Action News' gold-star winners: Chi Chi's in Fairview Park; Acapella in Cleveland; and Cooker's at 857 Columbia Road in Westlake.

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