Sunday, March 15, 2009

Heartland Cafe Blames City for Health Code Violations

March 15, 2009 - Late last week, a popular hangout for wannabe hippies, old hippies, progressive liberals, socialists and communists in Rogers Park was shut down for critical health code violations.

A female customer called 311 and said she'd gotten sick after eating at the Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood, Chicago. City inspectors found mouse feces "throughout" the restaurant, mold slime in the ice machine (which was causing cross contamination in beverages), and at least one refrigerator that was not keeping food cool enough.

Now, the self-avowed socialists who own the dump claim that they are being persecuted by the City of Chicago. Like what, the inspectors planted the rodent crap and mold slime? The toxic restaurant has been in business for 32 years; you'd think they would know food safety procedures by now.

Michael James makes excuses at Heartland Cafe
One local felt compelled to write this to me today: "This is a long time coming as far as I'm concerned. Maybe a good lesson in capitalism for the local commies. Or maybe karma coming back to Michael James for his pathetic and disgraceful treatment of musicians and artists. Wait...The tears are rolling down my face, I must get out my handkerchief."

Yesterday afternoon, I passed by the Heartland Cafe and saw co-owner Michael James puttering around at the front door (photo, right). That's the door on which city inspectors placed the big green "License Suspended" sticker. I heard Michael James make this mind boggling statement to a woman: "We've been in business 32 years....We'll learn from this and move on."

It took Michael James 32 years in the restaurant business to "learn" about mouse feces, mold slime and proper refrigeration? What about the false excuse that his Heartland Cafe is not to blame but is just being persecuted by the city? That seems a contradiction. If he's really being persecuted, why would he say he will "learn from this?" 

James isn't the only one making bad excuses. A tiny local socialist propaganda rag, "The Urban Coaster," a soon-to-be-defunct micro-newspaper also run by socialists, is happy to excuse the gross violations at The Heartland.

The Heartland Cafe is their biggest advertiser and Michael James writes the occasional column for them. Objective journalism knows no place at The Urban Coaster, as demonstrated in post on their website today. You don't believe Michael James is a socialist? Watch this video and let him tell you himself.

That post on the Urban Coaster's webiste said, "On March 12, the Heartland Cafe's license was suspended by a City of Chicago health inspector and its doors were temporarily closed. Owners Katy Hogan and Michael James have decided to use the city's action as an opportunity to make repairs ordinarily not possible during normal operations, such as resurfacing floors and cleaning large refrigeration equipment."

Resurfacing the floors, which should have been done years ago, is well and good, but has nothing to do with the mouse crap everywhere. So immediately, the Urban Coaster post attempts to divert our attention from the unsafe food practices at the Heartland Cafe. As for "cleaning large refrigeration equipment" that the nameless author cites, that should have been an ongoing procedure regardless of whether it was done "during normal business hours" or at other times. Obfuscation is a favored tactic of socialists, and it's in high gear at The Urban Coaster.
Heartland Cafe: Eat here at your own risk.

More from the Urban Coaster's post: "Michael James expressed a little frustration with City of Chicago inspectors taking the drastic action of shutting down his restaurant. He said that had they simply given him a week to make repairs, as has generally been their policy with restaurants in the past, he would have seen to it that the violations were corrected."

Look, a woman became sick last week from eating at the Heartland Cafe. She became sick not because the city is too tough on the Heartland Cafe. She got sick because the Heartland Cafe didn't care enough about customers' health and safety to keep the place clean or to maintain their refrigeration.... which Michael James is just now learning how to do after 32 years as a restaurateur.

How many other people became sick but never called 311 cannot be known, but thank God the city acted swiftly before someone with a weak immune system ingested a mouse crap burrito. It might have killed them. The city is obligated to shut down unsafe restaurants, and acted properly in this case. James, according to the propaganda piece in The Urban Coaster, complains about being given a week to correct the situation. That's not quite accurate you see, because in reality the shit-infested restaurant has has 32 years to "make repairs." 

The Urban Coaster shifted into melodrama with this: "The Heartland employs 50 people who serve the community organic food with a side of social activism at the corner of Glenwood and Lunt. In already difficult economic times the closure means the loss of a paycheck and the hardships that go along with that missing income for many of those workers. For the tightly knit community of Rogers Park, the affect of the loss of business from the locked doors is certain to ripple through many lives. To neighbors it also means the temporary loss of an iconic establishment."

We question the claim of employing 50 people, but the insertion of the phrase "organic food with a side of social activism" is obviously intended to rally the local communards to sympathize with restaurant that was endangering people's health.

You want organic? Mouse poop is organic. Mold slime is organic. Bacteria growing on food in warm refrigerators is organic. Eat up, activists! Do not panic, it's organic!

Let's address the issue of "the hardships that go along with that missing income for many of those workers" at the Heartland Cafe. Every one of them should be upset with James and partner Hogan for running a filthy joint, thereby forcing them to be closed in the interest of public safety. To The Urban Coaster, apparently, serious food poisoning would not "ripple through many lives" and is less important than having a comfortable place to dream about the violent overthrow of the United States.

As for the loss of an "iconic" establishment, well, Typhoid Mary is still iconic after all these years. The Heartland Cafe will remain an icon, but an icon forever more of shoddy food safety practices and "that place with the mouse turds everywhere." Perhaps Katy Hogan will be remembered as Mold Slime Katy.

The anonymous author of The Urban Coaster's column wraps up with this sappy statement:"Several passersby on Saturday said they feel strongly that Rogers Park needs the Heartland. Especially now, it needs Rogers Park."

Hey, pass that handkerchief, my eyes are tearing up. I wonder if the passersby noticed that the mock broken US Navy missile, which graced the rooftop for many years, has recently been removed? 

Does Rogers Park really "need" the Heartland Cafe? If so why? For what? Dry buffalo burgers? Slow, inattentive wait service and overpriced coffee? As a reliable disease vector? A place for illegal immigrants (excuse me: "undocumented trespassers") to work and take jobs from people here legally? They make it sound as if people will be lost without a nice place for America haters to congregate and plan their next anti-US rally.

"Especially now, it needs Rogers Park." Really? The Heartland Cafe should have thought about that a long time ago, before the mold slime started growing, before the mice had the chance to defecate "throughout" the restaurant, before the tofu went bad in the too-warm refrigerators, and before at least one customer became ill. Rogers Park needs the Heartland Cafe like a heart patient needs a cigarette.