In “The ABCs of New York Restaurant Grades,” I highlighted the pros and cons of how the system works. After viewing a recent news cast on how some restaurants are not posting their grades properly for public view at their locations, I felt compelled to comment on the issue. Restaurants that do not conspicuously post their grades on the front window or door will be assessed a $1,000 fine by the NYC Health Department. Hey, at least that is a $100 discount from the $900 three-fruit-fly fine I saw. For some lower volume locations that is a big chunk of cash. For other high volume, high priced food establishments, that is a drop in the bucket — the price of a six-top drinking top shelf alcohol or just the cost of doing business. Apparently what those successfully visible locations are afraid of are the reviews or negative publicity. That will inevitably cost more than the fine from NYC in lost revenue. Is it just me or have you ever seen a restaurant review that includes a grade for food safety? Zagat maybe? So, what is the solution? To me, it’s simple; adopt a proactive food safety culture, properly train your staff and spend a few dollars on equipment, facilities and pest control. Most of all…follow up daily. Do that, which you should be doing anyway, and you won’t have to be embarrassed or pinched by a “C.” Hiding a posted inspection grade or result is nothing new. By law, supermarkets in NYC are supposed to post their most recent annual Department of Agriculture inspection result on the front window, door or wall in a conspicuous manner as well. In that case if a “critical deficiency” is observed, scored and the store fails, it should be there like the scarlet letter for all to see. This can be a finable offense as well, just maybe not as juicy as a restaurant. Two different regulatory agencies, two different thought processes. Playing hide and seek with your health department grade or result does nothing to the educated consumer who can easily research the result. It is public information, after all. The consumer has the ability to make an informed decision on where they shop or eat out. Making it tough by deception and not being forthcoming may leave a sour taste in some people’s mouths.

  • crs

    If the restaurant doesn’t display an A, you can assume it didn’t rate one and go elsewhere!

  • Husn_a

    Rewarding the employee for his/her efforts can also “proactively” contribute to a positive food safety culture 🙂

  • Dave Walpuck

    Thanks for your comment. I concur.

  • Dave Walpuck

    For sure. All too often the employee gets reprimanded for doing the right thing then their hours get cut. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Happy 4th to all.

  • MP

    I stopped going by these ratings after being served a cockroach at a Chinese take-out with an “A,” but having a wonderful meal with no dirty surprises at a restaurant with a “B” grade. In fact, all Chinese take-outs seems to have As on their windows, while you can clearly see the kitchen being on the disgusting side. Bribery works.