It’s been over five months since Health Commissioner Bechara Couchair visited LSK and met with food business owners.  What’s happened since that visit?

Our steady stream of health inspections has stopped.  The "new" head of Food Protection that attended the meeting, Sandra Alfred, has already left her position, returning to a post in the Animal Care & Control Division. So the Head of Food Protection is once again a vacant post, as it had been for 1.5 years before Sandra Alfred briefly filled it.

Suggestions made by business owners have not been implemented to our knowledge. The Shared Kitchen User Ordinance, in effect since Sept 1st, is proving to be more challenging than anyone ever imagined.  Why?

In place of site inspections, Shared Kitchen Users now have a consultation with a Health Dept Supervisor.  Ironically, this inspector is the same person that destroyed thousands of dollars worth of food at Kitchen Chicago two years ago. (captured on video).  With the advent of the consultation, businesses are taking longer to get licensed, often having to make multiple trips to City Hall for reasons that don’t make sense.  We have seen licenses held up for food labeling reasons, despite the fact that the STATE approves labels, and the City has no role.  I’ve taught my clients to nod at the bad direction, and we’ll do it right after they get their license.

Back when we were getting inspected every three weeks, at least we knew clients would have licenses.  Now, after a client is registered at LSK, they go to City Hall, and we have no way of knowing if they’ll be back or not, or when. 

The Shared Kitchen Ordinance brands the smallest businesses with a picture ID badge as their license, something no other food business gets.  It’s not practical to have one person’s picture on the license for a business with multiple partners and employees. It’s more expensive, and treats one food business differently than all the others.  We hold out hope that when Mayor Emmanuel’s new streamlined licensing ordinance takes effect, some common sense will replace the high maintenance practices we still endure.

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