Geno's was serving wit'out licenses

Posted: February 24, 2014

YOU WANT THAT steak wit' or wit'out? If you're ordering at Geno's, you can now get them wit' - with the proper business and health licenses, that is.

Seems that the famous cheesesteak palace at 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue had been operating with an expired food-prep license since May. Their private dumpster and sidewalk cafe licenses had been expired since 2011.

After hearing from the Daily News, Geno's got the food-prep and sidewalk-cafe licenses renewed Thursday.

Kylie Flett, a spokeswoman for Geno Vento, says the company learned of the expired licenses during their recent heath inspection.

"They passed the inspection with flying colors, of course," Flett said.

The Health Department confirms that the restaurant and its commissary both passed their Feb. 10 inspections and were issued an eligibility report, which allows them to obtain their food- prep license.

How had Geno's failed to notice the expired licenses?

"Geno was in the process of handling it but there was miscommunication with Geno due to his recent surgery and his attending culinary school," Flett said.

Later, she said his accountant was the person who handled the licenses. His failure to renew, according to Flett, was due to an oversight caused by the fact that Licenses & Inspections is no longer mailing out license-renewal notices.

L&I spokeswoman Rebecca Swanson said it is the restaurant owner's obligation to know when the licenses need to be renewed.

"It's incumbent on owners to get their licenses," Swanson said. "We don't have the staff to proactively inspect every restaurant."

So what's the responsibility of the Health Department in such a case? According to spokesman Jeff Moran, the Health Department would be required to notify the owner and L&I.

Geno's wasn't the only big-name cheesesteak restaurant missing licenses. Neighboring rival Pat's is missing a dumpster and sidewalk-cafe license. They have also been cited with a violation for having table and chairs on a public footway. Pat's did not return a call from the Daily News.

Jim's Steaks at 4th and South streets is also without a dumpster license, according to city records. But Elie Rosenblatt, Jim's general manager, said the city has it wrong and his dumpster license is up-to-date.

Letting a license expire can be expensive. The cost to Geno's for renewing the sidewalk-cafe license was $180 with a $520 delinquency fee. The food-prep license cost $300 and only covers them until April, when the license will need to be renewed again.

Swanson says "there will be a delinquency charge for that license, too, but we won't know how much until we get the Health Department approval."

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