CHICAGO (CBS) — One of the latest Chicago bars to be closed by city inspectors is Cork & Kerry, a South Side staple on Western Avenue.
City officials said the bar was in violation on back-to-back nights. But as CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported Monday, the Irish pub is pushing back and saying inspectors were wrong.
For 20 years, Cork & Kerry, at 10614 S. Western Ave. in the Beverly neighborhood, has been serving up spirits. But for two nights this weekend, the city said the bar repeatedly disregarded reopening requirements.
Last Tuesday, Cork & Kerry posted a Facebook video showing the depths to which they take cleaning and sanitation seriously. But on back-to-back nights this weekend, city inspectors said they found violations when they stopped in.
The Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, or BACP, told CBS 2 that Cork & Kerry was cited and closed early Saturday morning for patrons and employees not wearing face coverings and for operating after midnight.
The city closed the bar on Saturday, and investigators returned early Sunday, and found the same violations. BACP cited Cork & Kerry again, and ordered the pub to remain closed until they submit and the city approves a plan to safely reopen.
But bar owners said they were not cited for a lack of face covering, and have the paperwork they say proves it. Cork & Kerry said they were cited just for “allowing customers to remain on premises consuming alcohol after 12 a.m.,” which is a violation.
But they said the people in the bar at that time were staff cleaning up, not customers drinking.
Cork & Kerry also provided us with photos of people they said are city inspectors not wearing masks – several of them who showed up multiple nights.
When the bar was closed on Sunday and the city posted its violation stickers on the window, Cork & Kerry covered them up with posters for a beer promotion.
This all began when Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) received a written complaint that a worker at the bar did test positive for COVID-19, but never showed up to work after learning the results of the test.
The city got back to us on Monday, saying: “BACP investigators may have briefly removed masks to make phone calls during investigations while seated and socially distanced from employees. BACP will continue to train and remind employees to wear face coverings.”
As for the violation sticker, BACP said it is not to be removed until a reopening plan has been approved, which has not yet happened for Cork & Kerry.
This is not the first time Cork & Kerry has been cited during the pandemic. They were also cited on June 5 for opening up as a bar when bars were not yet allowed to reopen.
Cork & Kerry is the third business to be shut down by the city for violating reopening guidelines. Two weeks ago, the city shut down Wise Owl Drinkery & Cookhouse in the West Loop violating capacity limits, failing to maintain social distancing, failing to require customers to wear masks, and serving customers who were not seated as required by Phase 4 reopening guidelines. Over July 4th weekend, the city also shut down tour boat operator Chicago Lakefront Cruises, for allowing nearly 100 people to cram onto the top deck of one of their vessels.
Chicago Lakefront Cruises has since reopened, and Wise Owl is still working with the city to finalize their plan to reopen safely.
Since the city entered Phase 3 of reopening on June 3, the city has received 1,877 reopening complaints, conducted 784 investigations, issued 130 warnings or Notices to Correct, cited 48 businesses, and ordered three businesses to close.