A couple of weeks ago, journalists on the New York Times business desk began smelling meat from Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in the Times Building. [Update: I'm told this has been a problem for a long time. A Times spokesperson tells NYMag.com: "This odor is an issue, one that seems to occur seasonally at around this same time each year."] The lingering odor of cooking steaks – dubbed “the meat cloud” by Times employees — caused burning eyes and breathing issues for some staffers, reports the New York Newspaper Guild. (The union tells me about a dozen people were affected.)
The Times worked on the ventilation system, but the smells still got in. The area was then tested, and industrial hygienists reported there were no carcinogens or other harmful elements in the workspace. The Times now plans to seal the newsroom windows above the steakhouse.
“This is being considered a ‘quality of life’ issue and not a health concern,” says the union. “Nonetheless, Times managers have temporarily relocated the people who felt the effects of the fumes and said they would look into moving others if need be.”
Guild president Bill O’Meara tells me: “We also had a complaint of bacon smells on the other side of the newsroom. Of course, I said, ‘What’s wrong with that?'” The bacon odors – coming from Schnippers – aren’t a big deal, adds O’Meara, and no complaint has been filed with the Times.