Palatine restaurant can reopen after workers move out of basement, owners pay $2,000 fine
A Palatine restaurant can reopen after the village ordered it closed for 14 days following the discovery of workers living and sleeping in its basement.
The Dream Place, a Chinese eatery at 1280 E. Dundee Road, paid a $2,000 fine and addressed all outstanding code violations, so it can resume operations, Village Manager Reid Ottesen found at a hearing Tuesday. Ottesen required the restaurant to pay the cost of the hearing's court reporter, or $491.60, within 10 days.
The three restaurant workers, all males, were found by firefighters when they responded to a call about 1:45 a.m. Sept. 6 caused by smoke coming from a 10-gallon pot of food on a burner.
The workers slept in the basement, which was outfitted with mattresses, linens and personal objects. Officials also discovered a bucket of urine and a makeshift shower built with a shower head attached to the sink in one of the bathrooms.
The restaurant was found in violation of village code at a hearing Sept. 15 presided over by Ottesen.
Village sanitarian Nicole Nichols testified Tuesday she found no sign of workers living in the basement during her most recent inspection. Ottesen also had required the restaurant, which let its liquor license expire June 30, to remove all alcohol from its premises; Nichols testified that took place.
Xiao Lin, the restaurant's manager, said The Dream Place might reopen Thursday but more likely this weekend.
Lin testified two weeks ago that he knew it wasn't right to let people sleep downstairs and promised it wouldn't happen anymore. The workers slept in enclosed areas of the basement, away from any food storage or food preparation, he said.
The restaurant's business license is under the name Double L International Management LLC. Its business license application from October 2018 lists Yicheng Liu as the owner/president and Lin as owner. Other documents list only Liu as the owner.
The property owner is Antonio Comacchio, with a P.O. box address in Bensenville.
Ottesen asked Lin about a "for rent" sign in the window of the restaurant. Lin said the landlord might lease a portion to someone else. Ottesen replied that in that case, the landlord must go through the proper zoning process.
Lin said Tuesday that one of the three workers now is living in an apartment in Palatine, while the two others left the state. Village Attorney Patrick Brankin asked Lin to give the address of the remaining worker to village officials.
"We just want to make sure that the people that were living there were properly housed," Brankin said.
All restaurants have to adhere to the same standards, but The Dream Place can expect a "higher level of scrutiny" during upcoming routine inspections, Ottesen said after the hearing.