Attorney: Plenty Of Eateries Massaging System, Getting Lower Grades Tossed

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City’s restaurant grading program has hit a milestone.

Every single eatery — all 24,000 — has been inspected and assigned a letter grade. With a whopping number getting the top grade, an “A,” some are wondering if there’s a little grade inflation going on, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

An “A” here, an “A” there — “A” grades are seemingly everywhere in Gotham eateries.

But it’s tough for some diners to digest.

“I think like most schools today they’re giving high As and not too many Bs or Cs these days,” one person said.

You will find the occasional lesser grade, but a whopping 76 percent of NYC food service establishments have scored an “A.”

“You don’t know if they’re, like, cheating the system,” one diner surmised.

“Cheating” is a strong word, but there’s no doubt some are “working” the system. After getting a “B” or a “C” grade dozens of eateries have challenged bad inspection reports and had them tossed on technicalities, according to a restaurant industry lawyer.

“It’s true that on occasion they do make typographical errors that lead to a violation being completely dismissed,” said Kevin O’Donoghue of Helbraun & Levey.

Far more restaurants — about 2,600 — have won an “A” grade after convincing a hearing officer the violations found by an inspector were insufficient to merit a lower grade. Many in the industry say they’re getting As because they’re working hard.

Enrollment in the Health Department’s food safety courses has skyrocketed — from about 9,000 restaurant workers in 2008, to more than 14,000 this year.

“We definitely work hard to offer good, clean hygienic service,” said Kelly Rossberg, a cook at “Bar Nine.”

And that has paid off for Bar Nine, which went from a “C” in July to an “A” in September. The city says improvements like that is a major goal of the grading program.

If the 76 percent getting “A” grades seems high, consider Los Angeles, where more than 80 percent of eateries there have scored an “A.”

Do you think something is fishy here? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

Comments (9)
  1. Rugbyball says:

    You seem to want the Grade system to be the “Michelin Star” program,
    This grade rating is about cleanliness of the establishment and do they follow all the Dept of Health rules. It’s not a grade if the food is good or not, that’s up to taste.

    And why wouldn’t you see a high number of A’s, if a place is unkempt or not clean then you run the risk of food poisoning and running off your business or lawsuits.
    So no, I am not shocked by the high A’s, I would be more shocked if there where less.


    This grading system is a shame a scheme a waste if time and money… payers money….

    I’ve been by a lot of filthy, dirty and disgusting looking eateries in my neighborhood displaying an A on their windows…………I wouldn’t eat anything there if they gave out the food for free,,,,,,

    Just cause the damm place been there for 20 ,30 or 40 freaking years and the owners can afford to line the pockets of those sweet inspectors they’re able to get away with anything….

    Now brand new extremely clean but beautiful restaurants where I’ve eaten and have noticed nothing wrong they get slapped with a much lower grade and the owners can’t or won’t line the pockets of the inspectors…what a shame because way before when the city was only talking about the grading system I suspected and predicted this exact same thing would happen….It’s so easy to predict since it is the same thing that happens every where you go. People will find lucrative ways to beat the system with paying off those in authority and responsible of monitoring or enforcing the laws…just look around…if you still can’t see it you’re more then blind……

  3. Esmerelda says:

    From this article, it seems liek a no-win for the restaurants.
    If they dont get a good grade, they lose business, so they work
    hard just to see an article like this.
    This type of article can only hurt businesses, now the Dept of Health
    will ‘find’ more violations.
    This is a no-win and meant to put businesses out of business.

  4. pugphan says:

    It’s all about grease, there’s a lot of it in the food biz, and the inspectors all
    have their palms out for greasing…smokersodysseycom

  5. Amtracmarine says:

    The grading system is a “Fin” joke. I’ve passed places in the city with an A’s in the window that looked like they were out of bussiness.

  6. x says:


  7. Larry Schwarz says:

    One restaurant the servers wear hats,thet say it’s health dept orders.But only at this one establishment do servers wear hats.In NY and NJ servers butter toast.They should not.The cooks who wear gloves should butter the toast or it should be served on the side.That is the law here in Utah.

    1. ttrue nyc says:

      What are you talking. NJ is Nj utah is utah.

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