A look at how restaurants are graded in NYC

October 19, 2011 8:16:07 PM PDT
Have you ever looked at the health grade on a New York restaurant and wondered how it got there?

For restaurant owners, a "C" certainly doesn't stand for customers.

Eyewitness News wanted to know the difference between an, "A", a "B" and beyond.

"This is a little bit overzealous in my opinion," said John Nicholas, of Americana Diner in Bay Ridge.

When Eyewitness News visited, last year, right after the grading system started, the Health Department gave it a "C" which means it had more than 27 negative points.

Points are bad: 14 to 27 is a "B", 0 to 13 gets you an "A".

If you appeal during that process, you can post a sign that reads "Grade Pending".

Almost a year later, after fighting back to an A over the summer they are back to "Grade Pending".

The owners say the public won't believe the tiny infractions that will hurt you or how much a "C" can cost business.

Business is down 30%.

Peter Angelakos opened the diner 30 years ago.

He is there 24-7 and says he never had a problem with inspections.

He invited us to walk around with Nicholas to see why they have a "Grade Pending".

They left everything as-is so Eyewitness News could see it.

"This little crack between the cement wall and the drop down ceiling," Nicholas said.

There was water by the machine that chips ice and a missing ceiling tile in the workers' locker room.

He says in the refrigeration room two eggs were cracked out of 3,000.

"What are we supposed to do? X-ray every case that comes in store now?" Nicholas said.

Then they were cited for mice, which they went after immediately, though they say their exterminator couldn't find anything.

Will Peter stake his reputation on it?

"The truth is any restaurant can get an 'A'," said Daniel Kass, of the New York City Health Department, "We go into kitchens for everyone else, to be the public's eyes and ears."

Since the city started the grading system, enrollment in food protection classes has jumped 40%.

In fiscal year 2011, the city has taken in $42 million in fines.

70% of the city's restaurants have an "A" grade?

It's a group the Americana Diner hopes to be among very soon.