Many questions remain as Lao Sze Chuan founder Tony Hu is in prison for his tax-related crimes. For example, who is running his chain of Chinese restaurants, which include locations in Chinatown, off Michigan Avenue, and in Uptown?
Another is when will the Uptown location reopen — it’s currently closed after health inspectors shut the restaurant down earlier this month.
A complaint triggered an inspection on April 10, and the restaurant appears to have been shuttered since. The city’s report includes a discovery of 300 mouse droppings in a variety of area, including in the kitchen, behind the wok line and in the dry storage area. The report also mentions finding three live roaches in an ice machine. Inspectors closed the restaurant and returned on Wednesday, April 19. Some violations were fixed, but it wasn’t enough to reopen the restaurant.
A worker at Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown didn’t know about the Uptown location’s plight. A worker at the Michigan Avenue location said that “they are closed for renovations.” Technically, she’s right. They need to seal off holes where mice may enter.
Eight of Lao Sze Chuan’s 14 inspections since 2014 have come from complaints. The restaurant has failed inspections seven times, but that doesn’t mean they were shut down each time. Lao’s Chinatown location was shutdown in 2015. That location has been inspected 30 times since 2014, according to city data. Lao Sze Chuan on Michigan Avenue has been inspected eight times. That’s a lot of inspections, despite an audit released last year arguing that the city doesn’t conduct enough inspections and needs more staff. Besides a complaint, a license renewal or annual canvas could lead for the need for a restaurant inspection.
Check out the inspector’s reports for the Uptown location below. Chicagoist first reported the closure.