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Smoked Out: Cambridge Restaurant Forced To Shut Down Grill

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) -- A local restaurant is being forced to turn off their wood fired grill after neighbors complained the smoke was hurting their health.

"Everybody has sensitivities, but this is a city," said Shepard Resturant co-owner Rene Becker.

The restaurant said they will now have to change the way they cook and called the Cambridge Health Department's decision unfair.

Wood Fired Grill at Shepard Restaurant (Photo Courtesy of Shepard Restaurant)

The Cambridge eatery is just off Mass Ave. with a residential neighborhood next to it. It is well known for cooking many of its dishes over wood and charcoal fires.

Becker said fired up cooking method "imparts a delicious flavor to the food."

Keren Schlomy, the attorney representing the neighbors, argued, "They really haven't been able to open their windows for 2 years."

Half a dozen neighbors have complained that smoke from those fires is causing health problems.

"Neighbors have experienced problems ranging from inability to breath freely, rashes, eye irritation," said Schlomy.

Rene Becker, co-owner of Shepard Restaurant (WBZ-TV)

But Becker said he's done everything he can to limit the smoke, even spending $100,000 to install a scrubber on the roof to reduce emissions.

"I empathize with them and that's why we tried so hard to really make the situation better," he said.

Health officials siding with neighbors found "the smoke and odors have caused a condition of nuisance which is injurious to the public health."

Schlomy added, "It doesn't matter how much money they spend.  If they're causing the health nuisance then it has to stop."

Shepard Restaurant (WBZ-TV)

Restaurant owners are now deciding whether to appeal the city's order.

"It's not fair at all.  It's just mind-boggling to me," Becker said.

In the meantime, they're cooking with gas, and said they'll continue to serve delicious food.

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