Champaign County nursing home among 18 food spots to fail health inspections

Johnathan Hettinger

A moldy ice chute, food preparation areas with pesticides stored above them and storage coolers occupied by houseflies and moths were among the worst violations leading to closures and failures of eateries across the county since July.

In total, 18 establishments were closed or failed inspections for serious health code violations between July 1 and Sept. 30, according to a review of inspection records.

A food establishment fails with an adjusted score of 35 or less on a 100-point scale and it is possible for a restaurant for to receive scores of less than zero. Scores are adjusted for repeat and critical violations.

Among those failing was the Champaign County Nursing Home, 500 Art Bartell Rd., Urbana. Health inspectors gave it an adjusted score of 28 and found four critical violations during a routine inspection on Aug.16. An inspector observed gloved employees “handling soiled dishes, and then transferring to putting away clean dishes without removing gloves and washing their hands between tasks.”

In addition, hand sinks were also blocked, and two pans of roast beef were stored overnight at an inappropriately high temperature.

This was the first time since 2008 the nursing home failed its health inspection.

The nursing home kitchen stayed open and  was re-inspected on Sept. 8 and passed with an adjusted scored of 88.

Karen Noffke, administrator of the nursing home, did not return calls or emails requesting comment.

Local health officials inspect food service facilities for compliance across nearly four dozen health and safety items – including critical violations and risk factors.

A restaurant is automatically closed if its adjusted score falls below zero or if there are critical violations that pose an immediate health threat to public safety. Restaurants can also be closed if they do not pay their annual permit fee. Establishments can stay open with scores between zero and 35, but they must be re-inspected within 30 days.

Seven of the 18 establishments — three in Champaign, two in Urbana and two in Rantoul — were temporarily closed by the public health district for repeat and severe violations.

Among those closed was Ambar India, 605 S. Wright St., Champaign. The eatery has failed four health inspections since 2013.

During a routine inspection on July 19, Ambar India received an adjusted score of 18 and six critical violations including moldy cabbage in the walk-in cooler.

During its re-inspection on Aug. 23, the health inspector noted an unidentified “repeat risk factor violation” and immediately closed the restaurant.

The restaurant reopened on Aug. 26 after another re-inspection. It received an adjusted score of 82 and one critical violation after the health inspector noted “live cockroaches were observed in the woman’s restroom, dry storage, and in dish area of kitchen.”

The restaurant staff declined to comment for this story.

In total, 11 restaurants failed their routine inspections, due to problems ranging from improper placement of an employee’s drink to an employee picking up food off the ground and failing to wash their hands afterward.

Eateries within Champaign-Urbana are required to post a color-coded placard indicating the health inspection results – green for passing, yellow for failure and re-inspection and red for closure. But county board members did not extend the placard system  outside the two cities  because county board members said the placards might give customers a “false sense of security.”

Restaurants that were temporarily closed include:  

Red Wheel Restaurant, 741 Broadmeadow Road, Rantoul

The health department shut down the restaurant on July 13 after it failed with an adjusted score of negative 6 on a re-inspection, with eight critical violations including a lack of proper labeling, improper storage of foods and “houseflies too numerous to count.”

The restaurant was originally inspected on June 13, when it failed with an adjusted score of 23 and five critical violations, including improper storage of foods.

Its permit was reinstated after the restaurant received an adjusted score of 97 on its re-inspection on July 19 and no critical violations.

Villa Pizza, 2000 N. Neil St., Suite 708, Champaign

Villa Pizza voluntarily closed on July 20 after an inspector found it using an already condemned hot holding unit to keep food warm from a July 11 inspection.

The restaurant reopened on July 22 after inspectors verified the restaurant was using approved equipment to hold hot foods.

Q’s BBQ, 1001 N. Ohio St., Rantoul

The permit for Q’s BBQ was suspended on Aug. 30 after the health department found that the mobile restaurant was making food at home, instead of at its approved commissary at Java Connection at 107 E. Sangamon Ave. in Rantoul.

The permit was reinstated on Sept. 1 after a new commissary was approved at the Knights of Columbus at 1001 N. Ohio St. in Rantoul.

Juanito’s Tacos, 510 North Cunningham Ave., Urbana

An inspector closed the restaurant on Aug. 29 because of an “imminent health hazard,” as the mobile restaurant lacked refrigeration capability, despite receiving an adjusted passing score of 40 during the inspection before the inspector’s discovery.

The restaurant reopened on Aug. 30, after inspectors found the refrigeration was repaired.

Bibb’s Country Restaurant at Wyndham, 1001 W. Killarney St., Urbana

An inspector shut down the restaurant on Aug. 29 during a re-inspection after noting an unidentified repeat critical violation. The inspection report noted “drain flies too numerous to count” among the two critical violations cited during an inspection.

During its initial inspection on July 26, the restaurant failed with an adjusted score of 31 and six critical violations, including storing food without date markings.

The restaurant was reopened on Aug. 31, with an adjusted score of 80 and one critical violation.

Neil Street Food and Liquor, 701 N. Neil St., Champaign

The food service portion of the establishment was shut down on Sept. 29 during a routine inspection after a health inspector found seven critical violations, including two repeat violations for using equipment that had already been deemed improper during previous inspections.  It received an adjusted score of 5.

The food portion was reopened after a passing inspection on Oct. 4 with an adjusted score of 75 and one critical violation that included “drain flies too numerous to count”.

Restaurants that failed inspections include:  

El Oasis, 510 N. Cunningham Ave., Ste. 14, Urbana

The Mexican ice cream shop failed its routine health inspection on July 13 with an adjusted score of 26 and seven critical violations. During the check, a health inspector observed employees eating at a food preparation table and failing to wash their hands. Diced mango was also improperly cooled, and there were “Hot Shot” brand insect hangers above food.

The restaurant was re-inspected July 20 and passed with an adjusted score of 90 and no critical violations.

China Express, 1235 E. Grove Ave., Rantoul

A health inspector failed the restaurant with an adjusted score of 34 and four critical violations on July 18. The restaurant did not have sufficient food service sanitation managers on site, and “potentially hazardous” food was stored at improper temperatures. For example, fried rice in a buffet was held at 91 degrees, 44 degrees below its required 135 degree F minimum. A cooler was also condemned because it could not properly cool pork, raw chicken, cooked chicken, beef, eggs or crab.

The restaurant was re-inspected Aug. 18 and passed with an adjusted score of 64 and one critical violation.

Road Ranger No. 132, 4910 N. Market St., Champaign

On July 26, the gas station failed its routine inspection with an adjusted score of 11 and seven critical violations, including lack of discard dates on hot dogs, an employee beverage on the food prep counter and chemicals intermingled with food items and coffee filters.

On Aug. 29, health inspectors passed Road Ranger with an adjusted score of 65 and one critical violation.

Sunny China Buffet, 1703 S. Philo Road, Urbana

The restaurant failed its routine inspection on July 28 with an adjusted score of 23 and five critical violations, including insecticides being stored inside the facility, chicken being held at an inappropriately low temperature on the buffet and cool items such as pudding and cottage cheese being stored at an inappropriately high temperature.

On Aug. 9, Sunny China Buffet was re-inspected and passed with an adjusted score of 89 and no critical violations.

Casey’s General Store No. 2224, 502 N. Main St., Homer

The gas station failed a routine inspection on Aug. 9 with an adjusted score of 17 and six critical violations. An inspector saw an employee pick up food off the floor, throw it away and return to preparing food without discarding the gloves and no washing ofhands. Additionally, the ice machine chute was “heavily soiled” with mold, the kitchen contained numerous houseflies and the ice room housed multiple moths.

Casey’s was re-inspected on Sept. 7 and passed with an adjusted score of 39 and four critical violations.

Golden Wok, 405 E. University Ave., Champaign

On August 24, Golden Wok failed its inspection with an adjusted score of 30 and six critical violations, including a lack of refrigeration and food service managers. Additionally, there were a number of hygiene issues, including the mop lacking warm water and cleaning supplies being mislabeled.

Golden Wok passed its re-inspection on Sept. 20 with an adjusted score of 72 and one critical report.

Big Grove Tavern, 1 E. Main St., Champaign

Health inspectors failed the restaurant after it received an adjusted score of 26 on Sept. 1, with seven critical violations. These included a condemned dish washing machine, label-less chemical bottles and misplaced utensils, which were not in a container where they could air dry.

Big Grove Tavern was re-inspected on Sept. 27 and passed with a adjusted score of 89 and no critical violations.

Cactus Grill, 1405 S. Neil St., Champaign

Health inspectors failed Cactus Grill at its routine inspection on Sept. 12. The restaurant received an adjusted score of 30 and seven critical violations, including foods at preparation tables being improperly stored, a delivery from the morning still sitting out and raw meat being dispensed inside the undersized, walk-in cooler.

Cactus Grill passed its reinspection on Oct. 13 with an adjusted score of 68 and two critical violations.

Szechuan China, 401 S. First St., Champaign

On Sept. 20, the restaurant failed its routine inspection, receiving an adjusted score of 19 and six critical violations. These include storing cooked chicken at room temperature, employees washing hands in the three compartment sink and the side door being propped open without an air curtain.

On Sept. 28, Szechuan China passed its re-inspection with an adjusted score of 92 and no critical violations.

JT Walker’s Restaurant and Sports Bar, 401 E. Main St., Mahomet

Health inspectors failed the sports bar on Sept. 27 after it received an adjusted score of 23 and five critical violations, including Nyquil and employee drinks being stored on the prep counter. It has not been re-inspected as of Oct. 19.


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