Sewage issues briefly close 2 eateries

Sewage issues briefly close 2 eateries

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

Raw sewage backup prompted health inspectors to temporarily shut down two area restaurants in April.

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District inspectors failed six others during April inspections. One of the restaurants, Rice Garden at the Illini Union, closed permanently for an unrelated reason after its failure.

Evo Internet Cafe, 711 S. Sixth St., C, was closed for nearly a week after health inspectors noticed raw sewage on the basement floor during a re-inspection.

The Original Pancake House, 1909 W. Springfield Ave., C, was also temporarily closed on April 9 after inspectors noted raw sewage from a drain backed up onto the server station floor.

Restaurants fail inspections if they get a score of 35 or lower out of 100. They are immediately closed if they have critical violations that pose a danger to the public.

If a restaurant receives a score below zero, it is shut down and a red placard is posted in a visible place for customers until it is reinspected and reaches satisfactory compliance.

Until June 30, restaurant staff were allowed to make enough corrections during a failed inspection to gain a passing score and a green placard. The move is part of a grace period under a new placard system that launched Jan. 1.

Food establishments in Champaign and Urbana are now required to post a color-coded placard based on health inspections results. Beginning today, restaurants that fail inspections but are allowed to remain open are required to post a yellow placard.

A service technician repaired the problem during The Original Pancake House inspection, and the restaurant was allowed to reopen the next day.

Health inspectors cited the restaurant for seven critical violations, including sausage links, liquid eggs, sliced turkey and pancake/waffle batter held at unsafe temperatures.

The restaurant initially scored a 25 during the April 9 inspection, but it was allowed to correct enough violations during the inspection to gain a passing score.

Evo Internet Cafe scored a negative-23 on its first inspection.

The cafe was initially shut down on April 7 with 11 critical violations, including employees not washing their hands and using the same cutting board to prepare raw food and cooked food without sanitizing it in between.

The restaurant inspector also noted the staff handled the raw food, and then cooked food, without hand washing.

The restaurant was re-inspected on April 11, and sewage backup was found on the basement floor. Although Evo Internet Cafe scored a 57 then, there were two critical violations and eight repeat violations. The inspection report said all violations had to be corrected before it was reopened.

Evo Internet Cafe was allowed to open again on April 14, when it scored a 96 and was found in satisfactory compliance.

As of last week, however, the restaurant remained closed and had a green placard on the door. A sign on the door from May 18 read it is closed for remodeling and will reopen soon.

Jim Roberts, environmental health director for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, said that when a staff member contacted Evo Internet Cafe to find out about remodeling, the owner, Helen Xu, said they were remodeling the bathrooms and planned on opening sometime in July.

Multiple attempts by CU-CitizenAccess to reach a representative from Evo Internet Cafe were unsuccessful.

Another restaurant, Rice Garden at the Illini Union, failed its April inspection and closed permanently in May. It scored a 27 on its April 11 inspection with six critical violations, including food stored at unsafe temperatures.

According to Lori Holmes, retail services coordinator at the Illini Union, the restaurant closed on May 18 because its contract ended in late May.

The Illini Union did not renew the restaurant's contract after a student survey determined Rice Garden was not a restaurant students were interested in having on campus.

Establishments that failed initial April inspections

Noted below are the score and number of critical violations of the restaurants and food establishments that failed health inspections in April.

Chopstix, 202 E. Green St., C

Inspected on April 14 with an adjusted score of 21 and six critical violations, including an employee observed touching his face, picking his nose and then proceeding to cut vegetables without washing his hands. Pooled eggs, or raw, cracked eggs, were found sitting out at unsafe temperatures.

Evo Internet Cafe, 711 S. Sixth St., C

Inspected on April 7 with an adjusted score of negative-23 and 11 critical violations, including no hand washing observed in the kitchen. The staff performed multiple tasks such as handling raw food and then ready-to-eat food without hand washing. The same cutting board was used to prepare raw food and cooked food without sanitation in between. The restaurant shut down and was reinspected on April 11 with an adjusted score of 57, two critical violations and eight repeat violations. It was not allowed to open until April 14, when it was found in satisfactory compliance with an adjusted score of 96.

McDonald's, 1812 N. Neil St., C

Inspected on April 29 with an adjusted score of 10 and eight critical violations, including small roach-like insects below the kitchen's three-compartment sink and insects coming out of a detached stainless-steel wall panel. The air was at an unsafe temperature in the walk-in cooler and the contents of food items such as sliced ham, cream cheese packets and shell eggs were all at unsafe temperatures.

Original Pancake House, 1909 W. Springfield Ave., C

Inspected on April 9 with adjusted score of 25 and seven critical violations, including sausage links, liquid eggs, sliced turkey and pancake/waffle batter being held at unsafe temperatures. The dish machine was not sanitizing at the proper temperatures. While the inspector was washing his hands, he noticed water pouring out of the cabinet storage space and flooding the floor because a drain was blocked. Sewage was backed up onto the floor in the server station.

Papa D's, 401 E. Green St., C

Inspected on April 15 with an adjusted score of 28 and five critical violations. The inspector observed an employee shaving gyro meat off a spindle into a container at a temperature of 110-115 degrees when the proper temperature for shaved meat is 155 degrees. Cooked chicken was also out of safe temperature range.

Peking House, 806 Eastwood Drive, Mahomet

Inspected on April 15 with an adjusted score of 10 and six critical violations, including no hot water available in the main kitchen hand sink and a bottle of "Listerine" stored on the meat slicer.

Rice Garden at Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., U

Inspected on April 11 with an adjusted score of 27 and six critical violations, including several fried foods in the prep cooler and make table stored at unsafe temperatures.

Strawberry Field's, 306 W. Springfield Ave., U

Inspected on April 2 with an adjusted score of 32 and four critical violations. The inspector noted cheese in the display case was out of safe temperature range. The portion of the display case where food was found at unsafe temperatures was not functioning properly.

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ROB McCOLLEY wrote on July 01, 2014 at 4:07 pm
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I don't think McDonald's "food" requires refrigeration. It's irradiated, right?