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Red Door in Bucktown Hopes to Reopen Monday After Health Dept. Shutdown

By Alisa Hauser | September 30, 2013 9:38am
 The city's Health Department shut down Red Door at 2118 N. Damen Ave. Wednesday. The restaurant failed a reinspection Friday and is hoping to reopen this week after another inspection, according to a sign on its door.
Red Door in Bucktown
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BUCKTOWN —  A popular Bucktown restaurant and craft cocktail bar is sporting something not-so-inviting on its bright red door: a green "License Suspended" sign, courtesy of the city's Health Department.

The Chicago Department of Health re-inspected Red Door at 2118 N. Damen Ave. on Friday after the eatery failed two other inspections, according to Health Department records.

Eater.com reported Thursday that the restaurant hoped to reopen Friday. But that didn't happen.

The health department's online report from Friday's inspection details several issues still needing correction, mainly related to the restaurant's basement, such as the cleaning of cooking equipment and utensils, the separation of working/living quarters, and no evidence of rodent proofing or a map to locate "bait control stations."

Red Door's recent troubles began on Sept 17, when an inspector observed dirty floors, a "black slimy substance build up" on the interior of an ice machine, no evidence of rodent proofing, and "20 small flies throughout first floor and basement area."

After instructing Red Door to "discontinue use of [ice] machine and use prepackaged ice until machine is clean," the inspectors returned Wednesday, where they again observed 20 small flies, unclean equipment, a leaking faucet and clutter in the basement, among other citations, according to the city.

A letter posted on the door of the restaurant over the weekend, signed "Red Door Team," informs visitors that the eatery is closed for "structural upkeep" and hopes to reopen this week after a re-inspection.

"As an old building we have several areas of our venue (primarily in our basement) that need to be updated to be up to code," the letter says.

In a tweet Saturday, @DrinkRedDoor tells a customer who inquired that it hopes to reopen Monday.

"Should have been yesterday [Friday] but paperwork didn't go through in time," Red Door tweeted.

Located on the northwest corner of Charleston Street and Damen Avenue, just north of the Armitage and Damen avenues intersection, Red Door opened in 2012 and is led by chef Troy Graves, who took over the closed Duchamp restaurant.

In recent months, the restaurant, known for its small plates and global pub food, has hosted a hot dog eating contest to aid a brutally beaten restaurant worker and a "Slurp and Slush" Oyster Shuck off.

Next to the letter on Red Door's door is a cartoonish figure that says, "Red Door Opens Monday. Bureaucracy."

A big red arrow next to the cartoon points to the License Suspended sign.

Since October 2010, city inspectors have inspected Duchamp/Red Door a total of 10 times, with failing results on 5 of the inspections, according to reports.

Three of the 10 inspections occurred as the result of complaints and the other seven were either routine visits or re-inspections.

Flies appear to be a nuisance for Red Door, though a problem that has been corrected in the past.

On June 25, 2012, for instance, inspectors observed "about 25 fruit flies and house flies in first floor and basement" and instructed that a pest company come out to service the restaurant.

One week later, on July 3, 2012, Red Door passed it's re-inspection. Inspectors wrote,"Found no fly activity at this time, violation now corrected and abated."

The health department classifies Red Door in a Risk 1, or "high risk" category, which is reserved for establishments that have "complex menus with more risky food handling practices."  

The city maintains three types of risk categories. Risk 1 restaurants are inspected twice each calendar year on average.