2 restaurants briefly closed under new program
Editor's note: The original version of this story included the name of the person listed on Public Health records as the owner/operator of Firehaus. But .that person had left the position in May 2012, the restaurant said. The name has been removed from this story.
Editor's note: CU-CitizenAccess 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. For more, visit cu- citizenaccess.org.
By CLAIRE EVERETT/CU-Citizenaccess.org
One Champaign restaurant was shut down for 37 violations during the first part of the year under the health department's new placard system.
Another restaurant, Cactus Grill, was briefly shut down during its inspection for lack of hot water on Jan. 23.
In the first three months of the new program, Firehaus, 708 S. Sixth St., was the only restaurant that was closed because of a failed routine inspection.
It happened in March, when the Campustown bar was hit with an adjusted score of negative-19.
Restaurants fail inspections if they get a score of 35 or lower out of 100. They are immediately closed if they score below zero or if they have critical violations that pose danger to the public.
Firehaus was shut down on March 19 and allowed to reopen on March 21 after scoring 90 on its re-inspection.
While closed for three days, the restaurant had to post a red placard. The restaurant had 11 critical violations and 26 non-critical violations.
Its critical violations included cooked food such as chicken wings, mashed potatoes and macaroni noodles out of safe temperature range.
Items in the make table such as potato salad, shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa were also found out of safe temperature range, and the cook stated that the table's lid was left open during lunch service.
Other foods stored on ice were out of safe temperature ranges. Firehaus is not approved to store potentially hazardous foods on ice.
Other violations included ants and drain flies in the upstairs bar and no cold water available in the men's restroom.
Cactus Grill, 1405 S. Neil St., C, was inspected on Jan. 23 with an adjusted score of 9 and six critical violations, including rice and chicken out of safe temperature ranges.
The inspector reported midway through the inspection there was no hot water available in the restaurant's sink.
The restaurant was closed briefly and no orders were accepted until hot water was made available.
For the past five years, public health officials have worked on a plan to make health inspection results more public. Health inspection reports of restaurants and food facilities are available by request from the health department. (CU-CitizenAccess.org filed Freedom of Information Act requests to get copies).
Two years ago, the health department also began posting a monthly list of all inspected food facilities and their current statuses.
If the facility passed, the status is noted as "Satisfactory." If it failed but allowed to remain open, the status is noted as "Re-Inspection Required." If it failed and was shut down, the status is noted as "Suspended."
In January, the health department instituted a system in which colored placards indicating inspection results must be placed in a prominent location at restaurants in Champaign and Urbana. Restaurants outside of Champaign-Urbana are not required to display placards.
Due to a six-month grace period since the new system began, the status noted online is now either "Satisfactory" or "Suspended."
Because health inspectors give restaurant owners a chance to correct enough violations to pass while on site, a "Re-Inspection Required" status is not noted on the health department's online list.
The total amount of points are deducted from a starting score of 100, with additional points taken off for the number of critical violations as well as the number of repeat violations.
Restaurants with adjusted scores of 36 or above are considered passing.
Critical violations deduct four or five points each because of the potential health impact they have on customers.
The score also depends on the amount of non-critical violations, which can range from one point to two.
To see a searchable, interactive map of local restaurants that failed health inspections, visit cu-citizensaccess.org.
Green means go
Under a new notification system that began Jan. 1, restaurants and food establishments in C-U are required to post a color-coded placard based on health inspection results. What each color means:
"Satisfactory Compliance." The restaurant passed with an adjusted score of 36 or above.
"Re-inspection required." The restaurant failed the inspection with an adjusted score between 0 and 35, but is allowed to remain open.
"Closed." The restaurant scored below 0 or had a major health violation. Its food service permit is temporarily suspended until violations are corrected.
Noted below are the score and number of critical violations of the restaurants and food establishments that failed health inspections between January and March. All the restaurants below were allowed to correct as many violations as possible during the course of the inspection and reached satisfactory compliance status — a temporary move by health officials to educate owners on the new system:
Bob Evans, 1813 N. Neil St., C
Inspected on March 12 with an adjusted score of 30 and six critical violations, including cream cheese and shredded cheese kept on the cook's line at unsafe temperatures. Sausage links were also stored at unsafe temperatures. A certified food service sanitation manager was not in the restaurant during inspection time.
Bobo's BBQ, 1511 W. Springfield Ave., C
Inspected on March 13 with an adjusted score of 27 and six critical violations, including cooked peppers and french fries stored at unsafe temperatures and a hand sink blocked by several employees' drinks. Additionally, the facility only had one part-time employee who was a certified food service sanitation manager, while one is supposed to be present during all hours of operation.
China Garden, 114 N. Vine St., U
Inspected on Feb. 12 with an adjusted score of 19 and seven critical violations, including chicken stored at an unsafe temperature and employees eating at the main prep table. Employees did not wash their hands as they cooked, cleaned and prepped food.
Chinatown Buffet, 713 W. Marketview Drive, C
Inspected on Feb. 11 with an adjusted score of 17 and six critical violations, including food such as tofu on the buffet line and a bucket of crawfish held out of safe temperature range. When instructed to continue prepping food because of potentially hazardous foods sitting out, employees did not wash their hands before prepping food.
Courier Cafe, 111 N. Race St., U
Inspected on Feb. 26 with an adjusted score of 31 and three critical violations, including a bucket of pooled eggs found out of safe temperature range. Ice was used as a means of cold holding, resulting in items such as butter and mayonnaise leaving safe temperature ranges. An employee did not wash his hands prior to putting on gloves, and he proceeded to wipe his gloves on his apron and then prepare a meal with soiled hands.
Empire Chinese Restaurant, 410 E. Green St., C
Inspected on March 25 with an adjusted score of 21 and five critical violations, including meat products being left out instead of placed in the walk-in cooler immediately after preparation. An employee was observed drinking a beverage and then not washing his hands before returning to prep food.
First Wok, 1815 S. Philo Road, U
Inspected on March 12 with an adjusted score of 35 and four critical violations, including cooled pork stored at unsafe temperatures. Bean sprouts were found sitting in the bottom of a sink that was not clean. None of the working chemicals in spray bottles in the kitchen had labels.
Hilton Garden/Great American Grill, 1501 S. Neil St., C
Inspected on Feb. 24 with an adjusted score of 25 and seven critical violations, including moldy restaurant-prepared "demi glaze" and moldy commercially-prepared butter. Mayonnaise in the walk-in cooler was past the seven-day date marking period.
Holiday Inn, 1001 W. Killarney St., U
Inspected on March 31 with an adjusted score of 6 and six critical violations, including several moldy food items such as celery, cream cheese, lettuce, hummus and drink mix in the walk-in cooler and tomatoes on the cook's line. Cracked eggshells were also stored over ready-to-eat food items. The inspector noted a "copious amount" of drain flies in the server station and at the bar.
Java Connection, 107 E. Sangamon Ave., Rantoul
Inspected on March 18 with an adjusted score of 34 and six critical violations, including open containers of cheese and sliced deli meats that were not labeled with dates, an employee talking on a cellphone and then putting gloves on without washing hands and improper water temperature in the three-compartment sink.
Jerusalem Restaurant, 601 S. Wright St., C
Inspected on March 26 with an adjusted score of 31 and four critical violations, including gyro meat spindles being cooked intermittently and turned off when business is slow, as opposed to being properly cooked and shaved within four hours. Cooked fish on a plate was kept at an unsafe temperature.
Lai Lai Wok, 402 E. Green St., C
Inspected on March 26 with an adjusted score of 24 and four critical violations, including a lack of employee hand-washing while they transferred between multiple tasks. Additionally, sanitizing solution was above 200 ppm.
Mandarin Wok, 403 E. Green St., C
Inspected on March 24 with an adjusted score of 35 and two critical violations, including several food items such as chicken, beef, sprouts and garlic stored at unsafe temperatures. A bottle of pest spray was also found in the prep kitchen.
Mi Pueblo Mexican Store, 122 N. Garrard St., Rantoul
Inspection on March 10 with an adjusted score of 26 and six critical violations, including a walk-in cooler kept at an unsafe temperature. Food in the cooler — such as beef, hot dogs, lunch meat, cheese and milk — was also stored at an unsafe temperature. There was also no certified food service sanitation manager at the store.
Peking Garden, 206 N. Randolph St., C
Inspected on March 11 with an adjusted score of 32 and four critical violations, including cooked soup, rice and both cooked and cooled noodles stored at unsafe temperatures.
Super Taco, 519 W. Town Center Blvd., C
Inspected on Jan. 22 with an adjusted score of 30 and six critical violations, including food such as pork, beef and cheese uncovered and out of safe temperature ranges. Employees also put on gloves to handle food products without washing their hands first.
Super Wok, 1737 W. Kirby Ave., C
Inspected on Jan. 27 with an adjusted score of 31 and four critical violations, including cooked rice kept on the cook line at an unsafe temperature with no area for hot holding.
Traxside Bar and Grill, 4 E. Holden St., Tolono
Inspected on March 17 with an adjusted score of 27 and five critical violations, including an employee washing hands without soap. The inspector noted opened containers of salsa and coleslaw stored with no date, a sink blocked by a spray hose and mop head and sanitizer that registered 100 ppm over the correct concentration.