Edwardo's Natural Pizza Restaurant was closed last Friday after failing a Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) inspection. The inspection was triggered by a complaint to the Department's 311 hotline from a customer who reported seeing a live rat inside the restaurant.
Although inspectors found no evidence of rats inside the restaurant, they did find mice feces throughout the premises and live cockroaches in the basement in the food preparation area.
Inspectors also discovered that the sink designated for food handlers to wash themselves did not dispense hot water, and the automatic dishwasher was not properly sterilizing items.
Inspectors also asked that Edwardo's management dispose of five pounds of butter that had been left sitting out and had a temperature of 80 degrees, 40 degrees above the maximum temperature accepted by the safety codes.
Representatives of Edwardo's are set to appear at an administrative hearing on December 18, where they will explain their violations and pay a fine of up to $2,250.
Edwardo's may be eligible to reopen before the hearing. Tim Hadac, a spokesperson for CDPH, said that the burden is on restaurant management to show that they have complied with department regulations.
"Once the owner thinks that the restaurant is up to code, he comes to our office and signs an affidavit that his restaurant is ready to be re-inspected," he explained. "We, in turn, send inspectors within 48 hours, usually 24 hours. If the restaurant passes inspection, the owner has his license reinstated."
Hadac said that nearly all restaurants pass re-inspection. "License suspension is usually a jarring enough event that it forces even the most indifferent owner to comply with regulations."
Edwardo's is the fourth restaurant in the Hyde Park area to have been shut down recently by CDPH, following the temporary closings of Sammy's, Thai 55, and the Quadrangle Club.
Though the closing of four restaurants might seem to indicate a trend related to the cleanliness of Hyde Park eaterieseither that the CDPH is conducting more inspections or that the restaurants are increasingly breaking the codeHadac claimed that there is no relation between the coinciding shutdowns.
"Inspections happen all the time in all areas of Chicago," he said. "Some are in response to complaints, but most are just routine. The fact that several businesses were closed in a concentrated area is purely coincidental."
Students at the University expressed mixed reactions to the news that Edwardo's had been closed. Emily Cornell, a second-year in the College, was disappointed. "It's too bad because their pizza tastes really good," she said, noting that she's seen cockroaches in the Burton-Judson dining hall.
"Unfortunately," she said, "there is nothing sanitary."
Others students, like third-year in the College Grace Lin, were surprised and upset to hear the news. She said that she had eaten there several times in the last few weeks.
"It never looked that filthy," Lin said. "I mean, it didn't look pristine, but I didn't know they had cockroaches."
Laura Veit, a second-year in the College, agreed. To her, the interior of Edwardo's always had a general chain-restaurant feeling. "I never thought it was clean, but I also never suspected that it was that dirty."
While some were shocked at the news, others were less than surprised. Orion Kellog, a fourth-year in the College, responded to the news of Edwardo's closing most irreverently: "I always thought the pizza tasted like mice feces."
Whether or not they like Edwardo's, most students agree that they are happy that the CDPH is doing its job.
"It's better that restaurants are inspected and forced to change than if they were allowed to continue with their unsanitary practices," said Mary Lin, a first-year in the College.