Sewage backups, lack of hand-washing among reasons for eight restaurants to fail April inspections

Thursday, June 26, 2014
Claire Everett

Evo Internet Café, 711 S. Sixth Street, on Monday, June 9.

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 after its failure for an unrelated reason.

Evo Internet Café, 711 S. Sixth Street, Champaign, 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., Champaign, 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 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 re-inspected and reaches satisfactory compliance. 

Until June 30, restaurant staff will be 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 in July, restaurants that fail inspections but are allowed to remain open are required to post a yellow placard.

The Original Pancake House had closed for the day when inspectors found the raw sewage backup on the server station floor during its April 9 inspection.

A service technician repaired the problem during the inspection and the restaurant was allowed to reopen the next day.

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

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

Evo Internet Café scored a -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 the 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 it scored a 57, 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 Café was allowed to open on April 14 when it scored a 96 and was found in satisfactory compliance.

As of June 25, however, the restaurant remained closed and had a green placard on the door.

Evo Internet Café has a sign on the door from May 18 that reads it is closed for remodeling and will reopen soon.

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

Roberts said if restaurants were removing or adding fixtures, City of Champaign Plumbing Inspector should be notified. However, if they were just updating fixtures and room finishes, it was not necessary to notify the inspector.

Evo Internet Café had not filed for a permit with the Champaign Plumbing Inspector as of June 20.

Multiple attempts to reach a representative from Evo Internet Café were unsuccessful.

Another restaurant, Rice Garden at the Illini Union, failed 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.

About this story

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

CU-CitizenAccess.org files monthly Freedom of Information Act requests to get copies of inspection reports.

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.

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.

There are green placards for “satisfactory compliance” and red placards for failures.

Yellow placards for a restaurant that fails inspection but gets above a zero are not being issued until July 1.

Until then, restaurants get a chance to correct violations as the inspection is conducted. Any public health risk factor violations are noted on the green placard.

CU-CitizenAccess.org began posting the complete failed health inspection reports in 2011.

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 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.

 


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 Street , Champaign

Inspected on April 14 with an adjusted score of 21 and 6 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 Café, 711 S. Sixth Street, Champaign

Inspected on April 7 with an adjusted score of -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 re-inspected on April 11 with an adjusted score of 57, 2 critical violations and 8 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 Street, Champaign

Inspected on April 29 with an adjusted score of 10 and 8 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 Avenue, Champaign

Inspected on April 9 with adjusted score of 25 and 7 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 Street, Champaign

Inspected on April 15 with an adjusted score of 28 and 5 critical violations.  The inspector observed an employee shaving gyro meat off a spindle into a container at a temperature of 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit 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 6 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 Street, Urbana

Inspected on April 11 with an adjusted score of 27 and 6 critical violations including several fried foods in the prep cooler and make table stored at unsafe temperatures.

Strawberry Field’s (Coffee/Bakery/Produce/Grocery), 306 W. Springfield Avenue, Urbana

Inspected on April 2 with an adjusted score of 32 and 4 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.