Do You Care About Restaurant Grades?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Alan Sytsma, senior editor at the food blog Grub Street at New York magazine, discusses the restaurant grades currently being handed out by the NYC health department.

Listeners: How much do these health grades matter to you when you're deciding where to eat? Call or comment here!


Diane Cardwell

Comments [28]


I am a restaurat owner who got an A
It is the number of violations that get you the grade. I just want to comment because NYC has a problem with mice.
Anywhere that trash is left outside....for days encourages mice! NYC needs to improve the trash situation. I walked into my store and a mouse ran in behind me from the garbage that was out front!

Jan. 17 2011 12:37 PM

I care.

I got sick from Atomic Wings in the East Village. How could deep frying chicken get me sick? The workers probably had dirty hands in a dirty kitchen.

I stayed away from chicken for about 4 years and cautiously eat out now.

Jan. 08 2011 09:29 AM
geTaylor from Bklyn., NY

A society that establishes an upstate, rural, archipelago of penal institutions as an economic development project for the local population is not to be trusted to conduct the restaurant inspection and certification program you describe.
Why can't you make an honest report on the level of graft in this program as compared with that regularly found in the construction industry and newly "discovered" (shocking!) in the computer departments of the city's major departments?
All to be expected in a city where notorious public officials admit-confess to the embezzlement of public monies without consequence.;jsessionid=DD4A5BC15A95EF9C6B1771F2A62EFB26

Jan. 07 2011 01:11 PM

I care about the grades. Why? Because my mother and I were food poisoned about five years ago from a chinese restaurant. I was so sick, I had to be ambulanced to Brooklyn Hospital. It was discovered to be salmonella poisoning. That same restaurant wound up being shut down by the DOH a couple of years later.

Jan. 07 2011 12:02 PM

I rarely eat out. Suffered food poisoning many years ago at Tina's Chinese restaurant that used to be located in Union Square--ending up in the hospital was no FUN.

I also used to own and work in restaurants I know what goes on.

p.s. my place was nice and clean.

Jan. 07 2011 11:58 AM

seems like everyone forgot the rats in taco bell, which is why there has been a change!

Jan. 07 2011 11:57 AM
Judith from 11215

I DO care about the grades. if i can go to an A grade restaurant I will. I used to go to a chinese restaurant in Park Slope that got a B and I won't go anymore since I have heard about what a B grade includes.
Sorry folks, but the least you can do is keep up with the requirements. If it "only" takes a cracked egg to get a lower grade then JUST DON'T have cracked eggs!

Jan. 07 2011 11:56 AM
sunphat from Xnyc'r

This is the system that's used in Los Angeles, if not all of CA. I can tell you that it appears bogus, and it seems like they never reinspect as I've been to restaurants with an "A" where the kitchen looks like a dirty gas station on the belt parkway...back when there was one!

Jan. 07 2011 11:56 AM
Sabrina French

The Starbucks in my neighborhood got an A but I'm skeeved by their dirty window panes and floors. How could they get an A?????

Jan. 07 2011 11:55 AM
Tracy from NYC

I care! They're not going to be perfect, but restaurants need some incentive to always try to do better.

Jan. 07 2011 11:54 AM
Steve Pollock from Oyster Bay LI

It has no bearingon our choice of restaurants. We eat very healthily at home and are less concerned when we go out.

Jan. 07 2011 11:54 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

"I came from an older, dirtier, less precious New York where one expected to get food poisoning when one went out to eat..."

"...and back in my day we also had to walk 20 miles in the snow to go to school..."

Jan. 07 2011 11:54 AM
rick from Manhattan

Eww. Have to disagree with caller.
Hot dogs? Who eats hot dogs except middle school aged kids.
Mechanically separated meat = bones and gray matter.

Jan. 07 2011 11:53 AM
Tom from Upper West Side

I have been in the kitchens of my favorite restaurants and senn that they are SO clean that surgery could be safely performed. But no inspector gets promoted by giving out A's everywhere. I understand that a B or a C can be challenged...and, rather than be reinspected, the restaurent can just pay for the A. It's all about making $$$$ for the city!

Jan. 07 2011 11:53 AM

one can go on line and see why the place got a C

Jan. 07 2011 11:53 AM
JAY from Norwalk CT

I care. I've gotten food poisoning from eating out. At lease with these grades you can choose to take the risk!

Jan. 07 2011 11:53 AM

i don't buy hot dogs either

Jan. 07 2011 11:52 AM
HARLEM from Harlem

I really wish people could understand that these letter grades are not about trying to prevent food bourne illness' or cleanlines. These grades and inspections are about the city making money$$$.

Jan. 07 2011 11:52 AM
sebastian from Brooklyn

Shouldn't a sushi place get an "A"? Isn't it a bigger issue there?

Jan. 07 2011 11:51 AM
Larry from Brooklyn

Some scary-looking places in my neighborhood have a B but one of my fave (nicer-looking) places for takeout only got a C (posted!). I have to wonder what's behind the facade and I have not ordered again... hopefully waiting to see an upgrade.

Jan. 07 2011 11:50 AM
Susan from Upper West Side

I spent too many years in developing areas of the world having to eat whatever was around to really care. My gut has been exposed to bacteria in Southeast Asia, Asia, Central America, South America, West Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa (including Madagascar) as well as Europe and North America. I also have a pretty good nose and taste buds for sniffing out and tasting bad food.

Jan. 07 2011 11:39 AM
Danielle from Greenpoint, Brooklyn

I thought I did. Then I saw that the Peter Pan doughnut shop in my neighborhood got a B. I'll eat those doughnuts no matter the grade. B is pretty good, and those doughnuts are excellent.

Jan. 07 2011 11:14 AM
Coach Rich from Murray Hill

Before the grades began getting posted I checked a good number of places on the NYC Health Dept website and you can actually see what their violations are. Not all B's for instance will be the same--one may be because the temperatures were not to standard while another may be for rodent droppings. I have found this much more helpful, especially since every Letter Grade posting I have seen in windows--even for some venues with unattractive violations I had read about earlier online---is an A. This means either these places have learned how to game the system or that they had been given time to clean up their act and they have done so just in time for an A. From what I had seen online previously there is no way some of these neighborhood take-out places should have gotten an A. Go to the Health Dept website and read about your frequently used providers to get the real story.

Jan. 07 2011 11:00 AM

No worries, I eat at HOME!

Jan. 07 2011 10:31 AM
Barbara from manhattan

I have been paying attention to the letter grades because I have a friend in the restaurant business. I have gone so far as to check the violation points of several restaurants. So far, I have noticed that restaurants with over 14 points have not posted grades. It seems to be all about getting a lawyer or consultant to deal with the Health Department.

Jan. 07 2011 10:19 AM

I have a hard time taking them seriously. Yesterday, I went to an upscale bakery/cafe in a trendy, high-end neighborhood, and their grade was a B. Yet, all the little greasy hole-in-the-wall, take-out joints in my downscale, low-end neighborhood have A's. The letter grade doesn't tell me by what criteria they were judged. What did the upscale bakery do or not do that the little Chinese restaurant get right?

Jan. 07 2011 10:16 AM

To me, they're ad hoc semi-official Zagat's-like ratings for the benefit of tourists. Maybe when I come across "C"s, "D"s, and "F"s on food-joint façades, just maybe I'll start taking them seriously.

Jan. 07 2011 10:05 AM
Justin from Washington Heights

So far the health grades haven't influenced any of my eating decisions but I suppose if I was considering a new place and it looked dubious a really bad health grade would keep me from going there.

Jan. 07 2011 04:51 AM

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