CHICAGO — A long-standing Irish pub in the heart of Bevely’s Western Avenue strip of bars was closed by the City of Chicago this weekend after repeated violations of coronavirus safety rules, city officials said.
Cork & Kerry at 10614 S. Western Ave. was cited and closed early Saturday because employees were not wearing face coverings and the bar was open past midnight, according to a statement from Isaac Reichman, spokesman for the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
Then, early Sunday, city investigators returned and found the same violations, Reichman said. He said they were cited again and ordered to remain closed until they submit an approved plan to reopen safely and responsibly.
The bar previously was cited for a coronavirus-related violation in June, officials said.
In a Facebook post Monday afternoon, Cork & Kerry appeared to acknowledge it had patrons past midnight early Saturday, but said only employees remained during the early Sunday raid.
The bar also said it was only cited early Saturday for “after hour patrons” with no mention of masks.
“The next night … at 12:07 a.m., we were visited again as we were cleaning up with six staff members in the bar,” according to the post. “Three unmasked city inspectors walked in and cited us for having people in the bar. No one other than our own staff was present, all in compliance with current city ordinances. The unmasked inspectors wrote up another violation, even though each and every customer had exited for the night.”
A Business Affairs and Consumer Protection spokesperson responded to the “maskless” part of the post by saying: “While BACP investigators may have briefly removed masks to make phone calls during investigations while seated and socially distanced from employees, they took proper precautions throughout investigations to keep the community safe. BACP will continue to train and remind employees to wear face coverings. This does not impact the closure order issued for operating two days in a row after 12:00am, in violation of the health order.”
Reichman said the closure is only for the bar’s Western Avenue location. There is also a location in Bridgeport.
Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) announced the closure in an email newsletter, saying “the safety of residents is my top priority” and that he hopes the business will reopen in a safe and respectable manner. He said he asked Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno to work with the owner to help the bar come into compliance.
In addition to this weekend’s inspections, Cork & Kerry said the bar was visited three times by inspectors on July 16. Its post also said calls to O’Shea’s ward office hadn’t been returned.
“Sorry for the lengthy explanation, but the events presented by the ward office fail to tell the facts of the story,” the post concluded. “We are very thankful and grateful for everyone’s support!!”
City investigators, meanwhile, responded to several complaints last weekend and canvassed entertainment districts, including Wrigleyville during the first Cubs home game on Friday night.
In total, city inspectors conducted 55 investigations and issued 11 citations to five businesses for failing to follow the Phase 4 guidelines intended to slow the spread of coronavirus. Reichman did not name the other businesses getting citations.
Since June 3, the city has fielded 1,877 reopening complaints, conducted 784 investigations, issued 130 warnings or “Notices to Correct,” cited 48 businesses and ordered the immediate closure of three businesses, Reichman said.
One of those closures include Wise Owl Drinkery and Cookhouse in West Loop, shut down earlier this month for “blatantly” violating coronavirus safety precautions.
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