Wrigley rooftop businesses fail health inspections
Critical problems among those found at food sites, city officials say
Fans on the Brixen Ivy rooftop dig into dinner at a Chicago Cubs game in Wrigley Field. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune / November 1, 2013)
Both businesses failed their June 16 inspections after officials discovered multiple violations, including "critical" problems that pose the highest risk to consumers.
The city found at least 12 violations at Beyond the Ivy, 1048 W. Waveland Ave., including food being stored at improper temperatures. At Brixen Ivy, 1044 W. Waveland, where at least eight violations were reported, officials observed workers wearing the same gloves to handle food, touch garbage cans and wipe their faces.
On Monday the city also inspected Wrigleyville Rooftops, 1032 W. Waveland, which passed with conditions, and another Beyond the Ivy location at 1038 W. Waveland, which failed.
Health officials made the visits after the Tribune inquired about the frequency of inspections at the 16 Wrigleyville rooftops, which serve drinks and food to fans during Cubs games. On June 17 the newspaper reported that the privately owned establishments have largely escaped the eye of the city's health department, with records showing that 10 of the 16 rooftops had not been inspected since 2008 to ensure the food is prepared, cooked and served safely.
City health officials acknowledge they have not been inspecting rooftops annually as required and say they plan to inspect all of them by the end of July — which would be in time for the two Paul McCartney concerts July 31 and Aug. 1 at Wrigley Field. Records of the four most recent inspections were received through public records requests.
Officials said last week that they were finalizing a new inspection policy for rooftops and sports stadiums that would require visits while concessions are operating. In January, the Tribune reported that in recent years, the city almost always inspected food venues at stadiums during the off-season.
The rooftops around Wrigley Field have grown over the last decade into full-blown businesses where people usually pay more than $100 each for drinks and food prepared in kitchens on-site. They are rented out by companies for private parties, and some hope to cash in on other events at Wrigley, such as the McCartney shows.
The businesses have unique licenses but must pass health inspections in order to open. City code also mandates that any food establishment that routinely serves cooked food be inspected at least once a year.
The June 16 inspection at Brixen Ivy was its first since 2003, according to the report. Inspectors observed "poor" hygienic practices and employees "handling ready to eat food, touching non-food contact surfaces, such as garbage cans, door knobs, wiping their faces, etc., then going back to touching ready to eat food without changing gloves in between (or washing) hands" — a critical violation.
Other critical violations listed included raw chicken stored in a picnic cooler at the wrong temperatures and without a temperature log, and no exposed hand sink at an outside cooking area, where employees were seen not washing their hands.
Food such as tomatoes, lettuce and potato salad was found to be not properly shielded to minimize contamination, a "serious" violation. The rooftop was instructed to install a sneeze guard, the piece of plastic or glass commonly found above food on buffets.
Owner Mark Schlenker declined to comment on the specific violations but said he'll make any changes mandated by the city.
"I'm glad they came by," he said. "We appreciate working with the city and will do everything they recommend we do going further to make it even safer."
He added: "If they saw what they saw, it is what it is. … I don't think anyone was in danger."
The inspection at the Beyond the Ivy rooftop at 1048 W. Waveland was the facility's first since 2001, according to the report.
Four critical violations were found, including chicken and sausages not being stored at cool enough temperatures and cooked pizzas not being kept hot enough. About $100 worth of food was thrown away, according to the report. Other critical violations found included a food-handling employee washing dishes with "no sanitizer," no hand soap available at a bar sink and no exposed hand sink in a prep area.
"We are working with the city to be fully compliant with all their interpretations," said Patricia Purcell, rooftop director.
Neither that rooftop nor Brixen Ivy was found to have a certified food manager present during food preparation, and both were found to fall short of proper pest control requirements, according to the reports.
A second Beyond the Ivy rooftop, at 1038 W. Waveland, failed an inspection Monday after inspectors found at least four violations, though none of them was critical.
The Wrigleyville Rooftops facility passed its inspection Monday — its first since 2007, according to the report — with conditions after officials recorded at least eight violations, two of them critical: A yogurt machine was prohibited from being used until a faucet could be installed above it, and there were no paper towels or hand soap at an exposed sink in a food preparation area. The rooftop also did not have a certified food manager on site, which is not a critical violation.
All of the critical violations were fixed immediately while the inspectors were on site, said Jose Munoz, a health department deputy commissioner.
He said inspectors will work with the rooftops to comply with the code and will visit the facilities for reinspections. Depending on the violation and the business' responses, the business can be closed, see its licenses suspended or be fined. None of the rooftops inspected was fined, Munoz said.
City health officials have said they fell behind on rooftop inspections in part because some of the businesses expanded beyond catered food to using their own full-service kitchens.
Munoz said the department's revised policy for seasonal food establishments will include inspections before the teams' seasons to educate establishment employees, as well as a second inspection while the business is operating.
"This new inspection schedule will be time-intensive for both our inspectors and the food establishments but is a necessary measure to protect the health and safety of consumers," Munoz said.