Before it even opened its doors, the Greenpoint restaurant Ilis (150 Green St.) already had the food world buzzing, boosted partly by its Noma bona fides (Ilis’ chef, Mads Refslund, co-founded the groundbreaking Copenhagen restaurant). Ilis focuses on seasonal, sustainable ingredients in often unorthodox ways, like forgoing beef altogether or hand-foraging straight from the source. However, some nearby residents say this sustainability paradigm has become an environmental nuisance.

Elizabeth Smith, who has lived in a building next to the restaurant since 2002, says the problem started shortly before Ilis officially opened in October.

“The old fireplace stink has been a constant almost every night they are open; the smoke and its smell can start around midday and continue through till midnight; and one of their rooftop HVAC elements roars up to 24 hours a day, often for days and nights on end, even when the restaurant is closed,” she tells Greenpointers.

Chef Mads Refslund and team at Ilis. Photo: Evan Sung

Ilis relies on a wood-fired oven for its cooking process which, by its nature, generates smoke, but restaurants are required to have some form of emissions containment in place to counteract that.

Smith says the Ilis team has been receptive to her complaints, even hosting her and her husband for a meal. But the problem continues. “We were charmed and impressed, we crossed our fingers and got back to our lives. There seemed to be some work on the roof and there were updates…but little material change in conditions,” Smith revealed.


She and her husband have taken to keeping their windows shut at all times but worry about the summer months when many New Yorkers try to cool off and get fresh air. As a long-time New Yorker, Smith says she’s used to loud noises and weird smells but likens the din from Ilis to a jet engine. In a Reddit thread about the problem, a neighbor also shares their experience: “I can attest to how smoky it smells when they’re operating. If the window is blowing my way, it seeps through the shitty seals in around [sic] my windows and makes my apartment reek. I’ve smelt it several blocks away too.” At the time of this writing, the restaurant currently has three active 311 service requests related to noise and air quality.

It’s not just neighbors who have noticed. The city’s Department of Environmental Protection has now issued Ilis a violation for the odor and level of noise, the agency confirmed to us. The city’s noise limit for HVAC units is 42 decibels measured from inside another dwelling, a recent reading measured the noise from Ilis at 60 decibels. The violation carries a fine, though restaurants can contest this at the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

“The restaurant fixed an issue with the fan belt in the emissions containment unit for the wood oven that was causing noise, and they’re working to move the ECU across the roof and away from residences,” a source tells Greenpointers. They also revealed that the agency is scheduling a return visit for a smoke reading, as neighbors have expressed concerns about what exactly they might be breathing in.

“The Greenpoint community is lucky to have so many great restaurants, but it’s imperative that they follow the rules pertaining to noise and odor,” said City Council Member Lincoln Restler in a statement to Greenpointers. “My office is working closely with Ilis, the enforcement agency — the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and concerned neighbors to ensure that corrections are made to protect our community’s quality of life.”

The Ilis team tells Greenpointers that they’ve started to take steps to rectify the situation. Co-founder Will Douillet said in a statement:

“Mads and I have been working to open ILIS here on Green Street since 2020 and in the process we have grown a strong relationship with many of our neighbors. My home is on the same block as the restaurant – so this community is doubly important – and not just for myself but to so many of our colleagues that also live here in Greenpoint. 

Our solutions with ILIS’ hood system are two-fold. For the smoke, we are making a significant investment into the ventilation components, including moving the exhaust point across the roof so that it may be housed as far away as possible from the residents who are experiencing the issue. For the noise, last week our technician serviced two fan belts that were functioning improperly and not aligned with their housing track, greatly reducing this issue too. 

We are truly doing our best speaking with and listening to our neighbors in order to properly solution-sleuth the right path forward and then putting all that we can into action to remedy the situation. We are sincerely sorry to our neighbors for the smoke and noise that the restaurant is producing, and are also thankful for their input, kindness, and patience towards us and our efforts. We will work to make this right!

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  1. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over this. If is wasn’t for the burden Ms. Smith is going thru it could be a Monty Hall Comedy clip.

    One of the most iconic, popular upscale restaurant in the world spewing out toxic waste in a formerly dumpy area now gentrified.

    One would pay a comic a million dollars to come up with a sit com relating to this.

    1. Paul, I would be so interested in working on a sit-com on this premise! hahaha. This is funny at so many levels!

      “One of the most iconic, popular upscale restaurant in the world spewing out toxic waste in a formerly dumpy area now gentrified.” this is hilarious!

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