Basil Forced To Close Temporarily

Basil, the kosher pizza restaurant that opened earlier this year in St. Louis Park, has been forced to close temporarily by Hennepin County for failing to have a food license.

According to Julia Selleys, a senior environmentalist with Hennepin County, any restaurant requires a valid food license to be able to make, sell, serve or give away food.

“First they had no license, which is why they were ordered to close,” Selleys said. “Then they were given a special event license which is limited in duration, and the state rules are 21 days for those.”

There was one caveat with that license in the case of Basil, they weren’t able to use their large pizza oven that makes the staple food.

“It wasn’t up to code,” Selleys said. “They don’t have an approved vent system for the pizza oven. The regular license is being held up by that.”

Jacqueline Larson, the communications and marketing manager for the city of St. Louis Park, said that city inspections staff has been working closely with Basil to ensure their recirculating hood meets code requirements. According to the city’s website, the city approved a permit on Friday, May 4, to “install ductwork, kitchen hood, oven.”

Wendy Runge, the wife of chef/owner Peter Runge, said that everything had been going well.

“This was a surprise,” she said. “For right now it could be a day, it could be a week. Whatever they tell us to do, we’ll do.”

Generically speaking, Selleys said, when someone opens a business, they submit plans to both the city and county at the same time. “If I’m doing the plan review, I tell the city and vice versa,” she said. “It should be a dual-track process.

“But [with Basil], they’ve never had the approval to use the big oven. Until you have an approved plan, which they don’t have by the county, they aren’t supposed to bring in any new equipment.”