Even A-grade restaurants blast ratings

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Even restaurateurs making A grades loathe New York City’s controversial letter-grading system, Council Speaker Christine Quinn revealed yesterday.

In a new Council survey of nearly 1,300 restaurants, 66 percent rated the city’s letter grading as “poor” — and 67 percent of those surveyed had received A’s.

The restaurants ranged from delis and bakeries to fine dining establishments, Quinn said.

“Clearly it’s not just restaurants that are breaking the law that have concerns about the system,” Quinn said.

Many restaurant owners told her that the system was inconsistent and arbitrary, with inspectors enforcing different standards.

For example, Scott Rosenberg, who co-owns Sushi Yasuda, which has an A grade, said on one inspection, a health department inspector told him he could keep rice sitting out, as long as he kept track of how long. Yet on another day, a second inspector told him never to keep rice out.

Quinn said she suspected that the system may be to generate revenue for the city, as even eateries that receive A’s are hit with an increasing number of food safety violations.

Of the restaurant owners, 68 percent said the grades increased their costs and complained about being ticketed for minor violations, such as having open doors.

Quinn suggested that the Department of Health have regular summits with restaurant owners, or even take small steps like not wearing jackets with Health Department logos on them, which she said scares customers.

‘They want to catch you’

Scott Rosenberg, co-owner of Sushi Yasuda near Grand Central Station, said that health inspectors constantly tell him different things.

“The process by and large has been inconsistent,” he said, recalling a time when an inspector took $10,000 worth of tuna, dumped it in the garbage and poured bleach over it because it was prepared by bare hands.

Herb Wetanson, whose businesses include Dallas BBQ, said the inspectors do not seem to want to work with businesses, instead ticketing them for minor infractions — Wetanson said he was slapped with a violation for having a bit of dust on top of an ice machine.

“They come and they catch you,” he said. “They want to catch you.”

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro


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