PHOTOS: Chinatown restaurants raided by FBI agents
They are some of the hottest restaurants in Chinatown, seven of them owned by celebrity chef Tony Hu.
The eateries raided by federal authorities Friday morning closed them down for much of the day while they executed search warrants for records and computer files.
The FBI says it is part of an ongoing investigation, but the presence of IRS criminal investigators suggests the focus is on possible financial crimes.
Tony Hu isn't having much fun Friday night, after the celebrity chef's restaurant empire was raided by federal law enforcement executing a search warrant.
Restaurant manager Tommy Wong and employees at Hu's seven establishments in Chinatown watched as FBI agents carted off boxloads of books and accounting records along with computer equipment.
When the I-Team arrived shortly after federal investigators burst in, they could be seen inside the restaurants with employees. At one location, authorities appeared to be questioning employees, a scene interrupted by one federal officer plastering a paper covering over the front window.
Celebrity chef himself Tony Hu is a popular figure on local television and a nationally known food star. His businesses all feature photos of him with local politicians. Hu wasn't present at the time of the raids.
Reached by phone he told ABC7 Eyewitness News that he had just returned from China and didn't know what was going on.
The restaurants were all closed, turning away the lunchtime crowd but reopened late Friday afternoon once federal agents packed up and left.
Tommy Wong employee took it in stride.
"I think everything ok. Yea, i think it ok. I not worried," he said.
The I-Team reached chef Hu on his cell phone Friday evening. He declined to discuss the federal investigation of his restaurant company-known as the Tony Gourmet Group.
Hu has been awarded just about every major civic commendation in Chicago's Chinese community; and was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011 to the city landmark buildings commission.