The Dill Pickle Food Co-op (2746 N. Milwaukee Ave.) was closed today, with a sign on the front door from the Chicago Department of Public Health saying, “License Suspended.”
On its Facebook page today, the co-op said that it would be closed until Friday, May 15, for a deep cleaning. No one was available to answer the store’s phone, but an automated message also says that the co-op “is currently closed until May 15.”
The neon green sign from the health department on the store’s front, sliding-glass doors says that the effective date of the license suspension is today, May 12. On the health department’s website, a failed inspection is listed for Dill Pickle on May 5. The inspector’s comments for that date mention a lack of a written employee health policy on the store premises and some food items, hummus and marinara sauce, found stored in a walk-in cooler past the permitted seven days.
Further comments from the inspector mentioned mouse droppings in the basement that the store was asked to remove. The inspector also observed seven dead mice, along with dead insects, also in the basement. Dill Pickle was told to remove these and take several other measures, including cleaning dust and dirt on the basement floor and posting health report summaries where customers can see them.
Rodents, of course, can be found all across the city, and as a recent Tribune article said, they may be seeking new sources of food with dumpsters behind restaurants going empty. When a Jewel was shuttered a couple years ago due to rodents, CBS Chicago reported that the store would “remain closed until CDPH determines the location has met code standards.”
Dill Pickle has made no statements so far about reopening beyond saying that its deep clean will last until Friday. “Everyone! We’ll be closed today, tomorrow, and Thursday (5/12-5/14) for deep cleaning,” Dill Pickle’s Facebook post today said. “Thanks for your cooperation as we work to keep our community safe & nourished!”
Dill Pickle had taken a number of safety and sanitary precautions in the last month as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Chicago. The store instituted deep sanitization at the end of every week and had a third party perform a virucidal disinfectant service in April, the co-op told LoganSquarist. In addition, the co-op installed glass barriers at all registers, banned reusable bags and placed markers to keep customers 6 feet apart.
Along with several other grocery stores in the neighborhood and across the city, Dill Pickle also instituted special shopping hours for seniors and others at increased risk for serious illness with COVID-19.
“Our seniors and [at-risk] people are really excited that we have these hours provided for them,” I’Talia McCarthy, general manager at Dill Pickle, told LoganSquarist in April. “They feel a lot safer shopping during those hours when the rest of the public isn’t there.”
The Dill Pickle Food Co-op incorporated in 2005 and leased its first storefront, on Fullerton Avenue, in 2008. In 2017, the co-op moved to its current, expanded location on Milwaukee Avenue.
Featured photo: Michael Dhar