A Visual Restaurant Report Card -- Early Results of DOH Letter Grading System Are In

Sixth Avenue pizza parlor, West Village -- A. Shouldn't the statue be wearing gloves?

In the nearly three months since the letter-grading system of the city's Department of Health (DOH) went into effect, letter grades have been gradually appearing in restaurant windows, but in most neighborhoods this still constitutes less than a sixth of the restaurants, a recent informal survey of several Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods indicates.

One month ago, the DOH announced that 48 percent of those inspected so far had received A's, 31 percent B's, and 12 percent C's, leaving an additional 8 percent of inspected restaurants closed outright for health code violations.

In an informal walk-around during the last few days, I passed nearly 150 restaurants, and took a snapshot of every one I saw with a letter grade. The results might indicate some grade inflation is going on, because, of the 25 restaurants that displayed grades, 19 received A's (76%), 2 got B's (8%), 1 displayed a C, and 3 had "Grade Pending" notices (12%).

When they began the new system, the DOH claimed that new inspection of the 24,000 restaurants in the city would take a year to 14 months, but our rough estimate suggests they've already fallen behind. Note that restaurants that receive a B or C can put up a Grade Pending certificate as they appeal the first inspection. As you will see, several have already done so. Hapless Ennju - a perfectly fine Japanese luncheonette on East 17th Street - posted both their C grade and a Grade Pending certificate. It was the only place I saw with a C. Hey, I'm still eating there.

Following are my photos. For each establishment, you can go to an inspection site put online by the DOH that details the violations and letter grades. It makes fun reading, but, given the Victorian methods of the DOH, it's hardly fair to the restaurants.

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