UPDATE: The bar was re-inspected and given the go-ahead to reopen Thursday.
ROGERS PARK — The owner of late-night bar Oasis said he had no idea why city inspectors shut down his business late last week.
"I'm shocked and baffled," said Ben Chikko, who, with a business partner, owns Oasis, a staple of the neighborhood since 1978 at 6809 N. Sheridan Road. The business remained shuttered Wednesday.
Chikko said officers from the Chicago Police Department had set up a meeting with him at 9 a.m. Friday to talk about 911 and 311 calls made from the bar. He said he and his bartenders and doormen frequently call authorities to report loiters outside on the sidewalk and there hasn't been any altercation or fight there in recent memory.
But along with officers, Fire Department, Department of Public Health and Department of Buildings inspectors joined the meeting on Friday and shut him down, he said.
Police spokesman Martin Maloney said the bar had nearly 20 calls for service in the past year, "including multiple calls involving disturbance, assault and battery." Maloney said additional calls at the bar included for a person with a knife and an arrest for reckless conduct.
Ben Woodard says owners hope to resolve the issue quickly:
Chikko said he wasn't given a list of violations or inspection reports, but later was told over the phone he needed to fix excess cable wiring and patch the ceiling. Work on those fixes began shortly after the inspection.
On Monday, the bar's drop-down ceiling had been partially removed as Chikko and two of his staff members sat at the bar trying to figure out how to get the 4 a.m. bar back open.
Bartender Michelle Dremon said she attends CAPS meetings in the area and her staff always checks for underage patrons.
"What more do they want — blood?" she said, referring to the city's inspection.
Although the Department of Buildings posted a "Do not Enter" sign on one of the bar's doors, an inspection was not listed in the city's online database. Chikko said the department told him it would send a list of violations on Thursday.
Mimi Simon, a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings, said in a statement Wednesday that the department's Strategic Task Force closed Oasis "due to dangerous and hazardous conditions." She said the task force usually inspects businesses that are "subject of ongoing criminal activity, especially narcotics and gang activity."
Simon provided a copy of the "Emergency Vacate Order" that shuttered the bar. In it, Department of Buildings Commissioner Felicia Davis details the alleged violations.
The first "hazardous" condition listed is a "compromised" fire separation between the bar and the residential units above and a lack of a fire enclosure around the bar's heating unit. The second condition lists exposed wiring and extension cables above the drop-down ceiling.
Simon said the department had been in "ongoing communication with the building owner, including a full explanation of the violations issued" by inspectors.
"The building owner will be required to obtain the appropriate permits and abate the dangerous and hazardous conditions before being allowed to reopen," she said.
Chikko refused to comment further Wednesday morning about the closure and inspection.
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said he spoke to Commissioner Davis Tuesday night about having the bar re-inspected on Thursday. He said earlier Wednesday that he wasn't aware of why the bar was originally targeted by the city.
Last year, the bar was given a 15-day suspension of its 4 a.m. liquor license for not displaying its Late Hour Safety Plan at the bar. That suspension was upheld on appeal, according to a ruling issued by the the city's License Appeal Commission. Oasis had previously served a four-day suspension for a 1996 sale to a minor and received a $2,500 fine for a 2004 sale to minor, the decision stated.
Despite the issues, the commission concluded that "the past history does not indicate to this Commissioner that the licensee has a pattern of violating liquor laws."
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