7 On Your Side’s Nina Pineda stepped in to help after a Friday afternoon gas inspection left Telly’s Taverna owner Dianna Loiselle in tears.
“Oh my God, I was crying,” she said. “I couldn’t stop crying I was so embarrassed. I had customers here. They were waiting for their food. And he said I had to turn off the gas. The fish was on the grill.”
On Friday, January 21, Loiselle said she was in panic mode after a contractor hired by Con Edison showed up for a random inspection of the gas lines at the Astoria restaurant.
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He said a slight leak was detected, which led ConEd to shut off gas throughout the building. The grill got cold, as did the tenants upstairs. The restaurant emptied.
“One Friday afternoon, they’re going to a restaurant to do this supposed test?” Loisel said. “Why weren’t they there the previous Monday?”
Loiselle runs the 30-year-old family restaurant and helped make it an Astoria destination that was even mentioned in “Jeopardy!”
Like so many other restaurants, Telly’s had weathered more than two years of the coronavirus pandemic — and this past weekend was to be their biggest COVID comeback.
“We had so many reservations, the Saturday reservation,” she said. “We had a party booked for Saturday morning, Sunday morning, and Monday morning…Thousands of dollars worth of meat, thousands of dollars worth of veggies, it’s all fresh and it all arrives Friday afternoon.”
Even though Loiselle’s plumber was able to do an emergency repair on the gas leak right away, he couldn’t file the paperwork until Monday.
“He felt like he could just fix it and they’d turn the gas back on,” she lamented. “No, Con Edison said no.”
The emergency work notice should have been enough for the utility to come and re-inspect immediately. But instead, Loiselle says she got confused.
“Everyone was saying something different,” she said. “It’s very painful. It’s not about the money, I have so many employees, so many families depend on being at work all week.”
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Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg, who had covered Telly’s for her Neighborhood Eats series, saw Loiselle’s plea for help on social media and alerted 7 On Your Side.
When we contacted ConEd, the utility said they were already working to have the restaurant re-inspected.
Within hours of our emails and calls, the old meter that ConEd said was the source of the leak was replaced and the restaurant was allowed to reopen.
“Thank you, thank you very much,” she said. “Thank you, Lauren Glassberg. Thank you, 7 on your side.”
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