City closes popular ‘soul’ restaurant

Customers looking to eat at the popular Black-owned restaurant Soul Queen may have to wait another 45 days to do so. That’s when the restaurant is scheduled to have an administrative hearing with the Chicago Department of Health to answer code viola

Customers looking to eat at the popular Black-owned restaurant Soul Queen may have to wait another 45 days to do so.

That’s when the restaurant is scheduled to have an administrative hearing with the Chicago Department of Health to answer code violations that shut the soul food eatery down July 15. Health department officials said it was the first citation and closure for the restaurant.

Among the things city health inspectors cited Soul Queen, at 9031 S. Stony Island Ave., for were: storing food in a cooler above the required 40 degrees or below temperature; having a leaky automatic dishwasher, which spilled dirty water on the kitchen floor; raw sewage coming up through a floor drain; no certified food manager on duty; and the outside garbage dumpster overflowing with trash.

The city went to inspect the restaurant after a patron complained of seeing mice running through there.

Helen Maybell Anglin, the restaurant’s owner, did not return Defender phone calls seeking comment.

“We have not heard from them as of yet so I cannot tell you if they have corrected the problems our inspectors identified this month,” said Tim Hadac, public information officer for the Chicago Department of Health. “It’s a shame that a restaurant with such a rich history has found itself in this position.”

Soul Queen could be fined as much as $3,250 at the hearing should they choose not to appeal, Hadac added.

“They really need a plumber in there because having dirty water on your kitchen floors where food is prepared is unsafe,” Hadac said. “Once they notify us that these violations have been corrected, we will do another inspection within 48 hours.”

But employees at Soul Queen, who asked not to be identified, said the restaurant is in the process of fixing things and plans to reopen.

Soul Queen customers were surprised to learn about the allegations. “Jesus, I eat there all the time when I am in town,” said Mack Williams, 49, a truck driver, who last ate there July 6. “I still remember what I ate when I last went there. I had southern fried chicken smothered in onions and gravy, green peas, corn on the cob and a salad.”

But Gina Wheeler, 27, last ate at Soul Queen July 13, two days before the city closed it down.

“My God, I eat there almost every Sunday, and you mean to tell me I may have eaten food that was cooked around sewage?” Wheeler said. “No wonder my stomach was hurting that night. I thought it was because of my period, but now I’m thinking otherwise.”

Other customers are hoping the restaurant reopens.

“Soul Queen has been a part of Black Chicago for years, and it would be a shame to have it close its doors on account of this,” said Eddie Jones, 76, a 20-year patron of Soul Queen.

Wendell Hutson can be reached at whutson@chicagodefender.com.

Photo by Worsom Robinson/Chicago Defender

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