Six restaurants fail inspections

Six restaurants fail inspections

By Pam G. Dempsey/

Six local restaurants recently failed health inspections and one of them is now at risk for losing its food-service permit if it fails again.

Cravings, 603 Wright St., C, was closed in December after failing its seventh health inspection with an adjusted score of -3 and 10 critical violations.

Restaurants fail inspections if they get a score of 35 or lower out of 100 and are immediately closed if they score below 0 or if they have a critical violation that poses a danger to the public.

On Dec. 5, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District inspectors found several food items out of safe temperature ranges and produce placed directly on a preparation table that also was used for raw-meat preparation.

The restaurant was allowed to reopen on Dec. 9 after scoring a 91 on its reinspection.

Because the restaurant failed seven of its last nine inspections, it has to pass inspections for the next year or face closure and the loss of its operating permit. If that happens, the owners will have to go through a hearing to get its permit reinstated.

Sze Tho, a part-time employee, attributed the repeated failures to the large food deliveries the restaurant received. These were placed in a small walk-in cooler or inadvertenly left out. That meant the food may not have been properly cooled or stored at that moment.

"The restaurant is too small," Tho said.

Tho said though the staff intended to follow health codes, such as marking the dates on food or properly thawing out frozen food, the restaurant often is busy and staff became diverted serving customers instead.

Now, to avoid overwhelming large deliveries, Tho said he orders smaller quantities more frequently.

"We went from three times a week to five times a week," he said.

Tho said the restaurant has also added more shelves to the cooler and is storing food in smaller containers to help keep it at safe temperatures.

The restaurant is also preparing food differently, such as cutting down on the quantities cooked, he said.

The health district inspected about 130 restaurants in November and December throughout Champaign County. must file Freedom of Information requests to get copies of inspection reports. For the past five years, health officials have worked on a plan to make inspection results more public. This month, they instituted a system in which colored placards indicating inspection results must be placed in a prominent location at restaurants in Champaign and Urbana. Restaurants in the rest of the county are not required to display placards. began posting the complete failed health-inspection reports in 2011.

B. Won, 2006 S. Neil St., C, was also closed after it was inspected Nov. 13 with an adjusted score of 18 and six critical violations.

Inspectors cited the restaurant for fish in a bucket of water on the floor out of safe temperature ranges, a broken walk-in cooler with potentially hazardous food out of safe temperature ranges, and an employee who did not wash his hands before putting on gloves.

The restaurant was closed because it failed its reinspection. It was allowed to reopen Nov. 14 after scoring an 88 on its follow-up inspection.

Noted below are the score and number of critical violations of the restaurants and food establishments that failed health inspections in November and December 2013. Restaurants with adjusted scores of 36 or above are considered passing. Critical violations are scored higher — at four or five points apiece — because of the potential health effects they have on customers.

The score also depends on the amount of non-critical violations, which can be from one to two points.

The total amount of deductions are subtracted from a score of 100, with additional points taken off for the number of critical violations as well as the number of repeat violations.

— Ambar Indian Restaurant, 605 S. Wright St., C:

Inspected Dec. 5 with an adjusted score of 11 and nine critical violations including food such as spinach and cucumber sauce out of safe temperature ranges. Employees were also observed washing dishes without sanitizing before stacking on shelves. The restaurant is scheduled to be reinspected within 30 days.

— Sakanaya Restaurant, 403 E. Green St., C:

Inspected Dec. 4 with an adjusted score of 22 and seven critical violations, including the practice of freezing fresh fish to kill parasites without approval of a safety plan. The fish also lacked labels and documentation of being properly frozen. Inspectors also noted a blocked sink for employees to wash their hands and no hot water to the men's restroom. The restaurant is scheduled to be reinspected within 30 days.

— Shanghai 1938 Chinese Restaurant, 2504 Village Green Place, C:

Inspected Nov. 5 with an adjusted score of 32 and two critical violations, including egg-drop soup that was out of safe temperature ranges. Inspectors also noted sewage backup from floor drains into the kitchen and closed the facility. The restaurant reopened Nov. 6 after the problem was repaired and the restaurant was cleaned, according to health officials. The restaurant was reinspected on Dec. 3 with an adjusted score of 65.

— Sitara Indian Restaurant and Lounge, 114 S. Race St., U:

Inspected Nov. 2 with an adjusted score of 30 and six critical violations, including making yogurt without a permit or license, chicken and beans out of safe temperature ranges and an employee talking on a cellphone while handling food in the kitchen. The restaurant was reinspected Dec. 2 with an adjusted score of 89.

About this story operates under the Department of Journalism at the University of Illinois and focuses on local investigative reporting, with an emphasis on social justice and economic issues. The project began with funding from the Marajen Stevick Foundation and the UI and a matching grant from the John S. Knight and James L. Knight Foundation. More restaurant inspection information is available online here.

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MPCPlatinum wrote on February 05, 2014 at 10:02 am

Go figure, every one of these businesses are Asian or Indian owned. This is not a direct slam against either of those cultures, but both of these areas are not exactly known for utmost hygiene or safe food preparation. I'd bet everything that all of these businesses were started with grants, and tax free status for 10 years for being a foreign owned business, must be nice. I'd have to work my tail off for years, build credit, and then hopefully get a loan just to start a business, meanwhile the vast majority of the profits from these establishments get shipped back to the motherland, all in the name of pure profit and serving unsafe food to the community. God bless America....

Joe American wrote on February 05, 2014 at 4:02 pm

My first thoughts exactly.  But techincally, India is in south Asia, so if you're politically correct, you can say they're all Asian.

Or you can just say that there are two Chinese, two Indian, one Korean and one Japanese restaurant on the list.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on February 05, 2014 at 10:02 pm
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Yep, White Power is the boss when it comes to efficient inventory.


You guys are awesome.


Yet somehow, I'm surprised that you're not complaining about Big Gubmint and its Orwellian harrasment of the small businessman.


No one got sick, right? It's just a bunch of bureaucrats with their panties in a bunch, right? 


I mean c'mon guys, you're playing this all wrong. The health deptartment folks must be union loving Democrats. "Them orientals" probably can't even vote.

Spence wrote on February 07, 2014 at 11:02 am
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How do you know no one got sick???

Nice Davis wrote on February 05, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Good grief, what an ignorant post. None of these businesses were started with grant money, and they certainly don't enjoy tax-free status for being a foreign-owned business. That latter canard dates back to the 1960s. I can't believe there are still morons who think we cut tax breaks to foreign restaurant owners.

Batman wrote on February 09, 2014 at 9:02 am

Where did you come up with the dumb idea that US citizens of foreign origin get grants to open businesses in C-U?  And tax-free status??  ROFLMAO.  I'd appreciate your pointing me in the direction of these grants and tax-free statuses as I know several good folks who could take advantage of these imaginary benefits.  Grow up and get real!!!

cgirl wrote on February 05, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Ummm, I feel this headline is misleading. Several of these restaurants had failed (past tense) and have since corrected the problem.

Joe American wrote on February 05, 2014 at 4:02 pm

How is it misleading?  Are you inferring that any of them did NOT fail their inspections?

Yeah, didn't think so.

cgirl wrote on February 05, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Actually, two of them passed the last inspection with almost double the score that they needed to pass.

So, the headline is incorrect, the correct headline would be "four" not six.

Batman wrote on February 09, 2014 at 9:02 am

Very true - however the 2 Indian restaurants in the article were relatively new when inspected and should have been following the book to a "T".

Hank Hill wrote on February 05, 2014 at 3:02 pm
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I think what's more important is whether or not they're using clean, natural propane. Taste the meat, not the heat.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on February 05, 2014 at 9:02 pm
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Nope, they all cook their food with charcoal.


Hank Hill wrote on February 05, 2014 at 9:02 pm
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Dang it, Peggy, you betrayed me!

Peggy Hill wrote on February 06, 2014 at 10:02 am
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Oh Hank, you know I would never bring charcoal into this house!  Now come eat my brown betty.

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 08, 2014 at 9:02 am

Texans....  Enough said.

Batman wrote on February 09, 2014 at 9:02 am

It is amazing how ignorant some commenters on this site can be - especially the person who said the restaurants were opened by foreigners with "grants".  Sheer igorance.  While I do not condone restaurants failing health inspections, and did indeed post the News Gazette's comments on the respective restaurant's Yelp pages to warn other consumers, it might enlighten the reader to note that in every instance the restaurant is owned by either a US citizen or legal permanent resident and was not funded by a "grant", whatever that is.  Ignorance is the most lethal weapon, this country possesses.