New York City restaurants to see reduced fines, inspection reform

nyc restaurants grading
New York City restaurants can expect to see some changes aimed at reducing fines and helping owners improve their posted health scores.
Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Restaurant in New York City can expect to see some changes aimed at reducing fines and helping owners improve the scores posted on their front doors thanks to an agreement between city officials.

The reforms come after weeks of negotiation between the City Council and the Health Department, both of which agreed to reduce fines by 25 percent, closer amounts levied against violators before the grading system launched in 2010.

With the fine reductions also come fixed fine levels, whereas fines were previously decided on by a panel and could range from $200 to $2,000. Inspectors’ standards and exceptions, however, remain the same.

Before the health inspection system was overhauled by the Bloomberg administration, the city took in about $32.8 million. By the end of 2012, the city reported $52 million in fines. The new changes, which would go into effect by June at the earliest, are expected to drop by $20 million.

“Letter grading was never intended to be a revenue generator for the city of New York,” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. “The rules will provide much-needed fine relief to the city’s restaurants and will show that we can treat restaurants fairly without compromising public safety.”

The new rules, which must first be approved by the city’s Board of Health, also include a provision that allows restaurant owners to request an consultative inspection — an ungraded, penalty-free option in preparation for the real thing.

“We are giving restaurants the tools they need to improve their performance,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said, “and are balancing fairness to these small-business owners, who are the lifeblood of our city, while at the same time maintaining safety standards.”

The announcement follows up on campaign promises made by Mayor Bill de Blasio to ease burdens on small businesses — especially weighty fines.

The city’s health inspection system faced scrutiny and criticism since former Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted its launch four years ago and praised again months before leaving office.

“Those that don’t want to clean up their kitchen, I know why they’re bitching,” Bloomberg said of upset restaurant owners. “But I would suggest don’t eat in a restaurant unless they have an ‘A.’”

The city most recently reported reported that 88 percent of New York City restaurants have an A grade, with the number of restaurants with B dropping to 10 percent and C grades to 2 percent.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…


Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…


Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…


China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…


Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…


What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…


Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.


3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.


NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.


Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.


VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…


Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…


Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.


Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…