Café Corea, a Korean restaurant on 55th Street, which caters to several University coffee shops, was shut down yesterday morning for health violations.
Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) inspectors confiscated the restaurant's business license after discovering mouse infestation, inadequate hand-washing facilities for food handlers, and food held at hazardous temperatures.
"The customers of this restaurant deserve better than the unsafe conditions that exist there," said CDPH Commissioner John Wilhelm in a CDPH press release. "They will not get their business license back until they have cleaned up their restaurant and passed re-inspection."
Café Corea manager Hea Lim responded to the temperature violation saying the inspectors came at 8:30 in the morning and that the cooks usually do not start warming the food up until 10:30 a.m. "If the inspectors had come later the temperature would have been higher," Lim maintained. "The temperature was very low because we hadn't started [heating it] yet."
The CDPH found that the chicken soup was held at 105 degrees, a full 35 degrees below the minimum 140-degree holding temperature for chicken.
"She doesn't understand the Korean cooking style," Lim said. "Korean soup temperature is a little bit low."
Lim confirmed that the restaurant's hand-washing facilities were at fault. The sinks had been broken for two to three months, she said.
Café Corea hopes to be back in business by early next week. "It should be fixed this weekend," Lim said referring to the violations. "We hope to open Monday or Tuesday depending on when the inspectors come back."
In addition to having their business license suspended, Café Corea representatives will have to explain their violations at an administrative hearing on March 6 and pay a fine of up to $2,250, according to the CDPH.