Mayor Bloomberg Encourages Restaurant Grading System

By: Melaina Gasbarrino

With 24,000 restaurants in New York City we were happy to know the Bloomberg administration just 19 months ago issued letter grades to ensure restaurants were of the safest nature. Now, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, is continually showcasing restaurants of New York will only be awarded an 'A' if they receive a perfect inspection by the NY Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

There are degrees of separation in the battle of the grades as restaurant owners and officials seemed to have varying degrees as to just how important the grading system is. On the one hand some restaurateurs are skeptical of the system when restaurants receive a letter grade below 'A'. Peter Hansen, director of operations at Benchmarc Restaurants, isn't too keen on the grading system, "It could be a cracked toilet cover; it could be a gap around a pipe...but what your customer is thinking is: old tuna."

But when you look at chefs around New York, they will do anything and everything to get that 'A' status. At a restaurant in Prospect Heights, there was a lack of ventilation in the employee bathroom, and thus they were downgraded to a B. Having installed a fan in the bathroom the owner was certainly frustrated that they missed the 'A' cutoff by one or two points.

So when you take a look at all of the heat the system is getting, it's comforting to know they aren't breaking down and letting restaurants slipping up when it comes to health and safety in the New York restaurant world. The Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, believes the grading system is the best thing to hit restaurants. She wants to ensure "the grades tell the true story and they do it in a way that doesn't overly or inconsistently fine."

The beauty of it all is that Bloomberg isn't wanting to push people away from the restaurants that have been downgraded, he wants people to still experience their favorite restaurants just as he does. Near Bloomberg's Upper East Side town house he continually ventures into his favorite coffee shop, even though it was dropped from an 'A' to a 'B'.

The grading system is all about ensuring restaurant goers have more access to information and are able to walk into a restaurant and know just why it received the grade it did. Whether or not that veers you away from your local, favorite hangout is up to you.

Melaina is from a small town in Ontario, Canada and as an avid environmentalist with a passion for focusing on healthy living. Having traveled the world and written about it every step of the way, she one day hopes to develop unique environmental educational programs for kids. 

Photo: jeroen020

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