Residents of the Tuscan Lofts building at 7320 Madison St. could tell Piggyback Barbeque was preparing to open in the early morning of Nov. 16 when some residents were awakened by the smell of smoke and barbeque in their units and in the hallways around 4 a.m.

“They were testing the smokers and smoke did get upstairs,” said Fire Chief Steve Glinke, the village’s health and safety inspector.

Glinke said village inspectors had thoroughly checked Piggyback’s construction and HVAC system before they were approved.

“We think the last employee [working that evening] walked out and turned off the hood [fan].”

Glinke was informed promptly and he said the restaurateur, Rachel Dennis, was immediately responsive, quickly organizing a safety check and inspection of the hood and ventilation system. Glinke said all of the restaurant’s ventilation systems are properly designed to vent out into the alley rather than up through the building’s upper floors.

“We jumped on it and the owner nipped it in the bud,” Glinke said.

“It’s an old, old building, but it’s properly ventilated,” he added. “There’s going to be some fine tuning; I’m confident of that.”

Members of the Tuscan Lofts Condominium board declined to comment about the incident and Dennis did not return calls and emails asking for a comment. On Monday, contractors were in the restaurant working on the hood.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...