Thursday, August 03, 2006

With Six You Get Eggroll ... Or Not

Sweet Jesus ... how much bad news is a person supposed to swallow in one day? First gas goes up to $3.35 in Springfield ... and now this???

Mr. Eggroll, 635 W. Jefferson St., shut its doors after the Sangamon County Department of Public Health found 47 violations, 13 of which were considered critical and require immediate correction.

I've already admitted that I don't have discriminating tastes when it comes to cuisine. Today my office hosted a going away luncheon for our summer intern at Xochimilco ... which, I've been told, is known for it's authentic Mexican food. There is nothing wrong with Xochimilco, it's food, or it's staff ... but I still hated it with everything that I am.

I spent a little over $10 at lunch today ... and all I kept thinking was that the same money would've bought four steak soft tacos and four meximelts at Taco Bell ... and that would've been enough food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That probably makes me a hick ... but as Stewart Smalley would say, "That's OKAY."

Back to the problem at hand ... Mr. Eggroll has the best fried rice in town. There's nothing else that tastes remotely like it. I prefer the roast pork ... but I'll take chicken in a pinch. I did not want to hear about mice and roaches ... or mold on chicken ... ugh.

The article says they're planning on re-opening soon ... and my co-workers assure me the safest time to go to a restaurant is right after an incident like this. So ... I'll keep looking for that glowing "open" sign as I drive by ... and hopefully we'll never ever have to speak of this again.

Have a Goldstone, Mr. Eggroll.
Tell me any little thing that I can do.
Have some fried rice, Mr. Soy Sauce.
Have a cookie, have a few!

Bette Midler - Mr. Goldstone


  1. I worked in a local eatery for thirteen years, and I can assure you that the commitment to cleanliness flows from ownership through management to workers.

    To have those problems in a particular establishment is an indication of a mindset on the part of the owner(s) that the health of employees, and clients does not come before profits.

    You're placing your health at risk eating at any establishment which allows so many violations.

    Good luck - cause you'll need it.


  2. Whoa ... JP ... you're the perfect person to talk about this with.

    It makes sense that a lax attitude towards cleanliness and saftey would come from the owner. I mean, if a conscientious owner walked in there and saw that kind of filth, he would've taken care of it.

    So here's the crux of the issue ... will a place like Mr. Eggroll ever be "safe" to go to? Even if my co-workers are right ... and the best time to go is immediately after this type of commotion ... who's to say it will still be clean a week ... or a month ... or a year from now.

    So in your opinion, JP ... if you found out an establishment had this many violations, would you ever go back again?

    Just wondering ... cause I've never gotten sick from eating at Mr. Eggroll ... but you know, it only takes once ...

  3. Mice, and cockroaches don't just suddenly arrive. Well they do, but they are highly noticable. Mold, rust, piles of rotting food, and grease deposits don't just suddenly appear.

    You have to actively look the other way while the filth piles up.

    Let's look at a few examples.

    Example: I'll rush the staff responsible for cleaning up even though I know the place won't get cleaned properly because I want to save ten, or twenty dollars a day in labor cost.

    Example: I'll have the pest control people come by once every couple of months instead of paying extra to have them help resolve the mice, and cockroach problem.

    Example: I'll save money, and time by not emphasizing to my staff that they should keep food at proper temperatures, to properly date food, to throw food out after several days when it begins to go bad.

    When you start adding up all the types of violations you can see that in each case the root cause is an attempt to save a little money.

    If you look at how little it cost to keep a clean operation going (perhaps a few thousand dollars extra a year)it shows clearly that if an owner wants to protect his clients from foodborne illness it can be done - while still making a healthy profit.

    Just add ten cents to the cost of your menu selections, and use that money to keep a clean place. No one will walk out because they'd have to pay an extra quarter for properly prepared meal made in a professional manner in a clean establishement.

    There's simply no excuse to do anything otherwise other than greed, laziness, and a lack of respect for your clients.

    As to whether such a place can be rehabilitated - bad habits are very hard to break.

    This shouldn't be a game of cat, and mouse - of forcing cleanliness upon an owner, or manager.

    You'd literally have to run pop inspections on such a place on a weekly basis - with the threat of immediate closure to keep a place clean as long as the owners don't change the level of concern they have for their clients.

    I leave the choice up to you.

    One thing you may want to do is call the owner up. If they won't let you talk with the owner leave your name, and number. If you don't get a call back - well is that any place you want to eat?

    If the owner does call you, that's a good sign. I'd state point blank that you've been a loyal customer, and that you are very concerned. Ask for an explanation, and a promise that it will never happen again. If the owner sounds sincere in addressing your concerns, and his explanation sounds plausible (the owners were out of the country, or had a death in the family - and they fired the manager responsible once they returned) then you may want to take a chance on them again.

    Otherwise, well there's lots of good places in town to eat at - and why risk your health?


  4. New China on 6th Street has awesome fried rice. It's the only place I'll for the conditions, I don't know that I really want to know.

  5. Wow, good luck. You sound very brave. I ate there once about twelve years ago and my wontons tasted like mustard. I do like the possibly filthy China One on South Grand/2nd and the closest thing to a classy Chinese joint we have, Tai Pan on Stevenson.

    Um, hi, I browse by your blog once in a while and enjoy it but I believe this is my first comment.

  6. Hey there, Occula! :) Thanks for writting a comment ...

    I'm not sure if the wantons you're talking about were the crab rangoon ... but if they are, Mr. Eggroll's always taste like mustard. Their recipe is different from most other restaurants ... in fact, the filling is yellow. I don't care for it myself ... but I know a few people who think Mr. Eggroll's are the best just because of that mustard. Blech.

    I guess I'll go try the New China on 6th Street that GTG suggested ... because JP has convinced me this isn't a good thing. I suspect that since the owner wouldn't respond to the State Journal-Register, he won't respond to an individual who just really likes their fried rice. However ... as much as I like that rice ... I like not having food poisoning even more.

    Surely someone in town makes rice comparable to Mr. Eggroll ... I have no idea what spices they even use ... but I've been to a dozen other chinese resturants ... and none come close.

    JP ... you're right ... if the owner really wanted to change, he would've talked to the SJ-R and assured them that he fired the manager ... or that he just came out of a coma ... whatever it took to make us feel safe eating there.