Restaurateurs Are Red-Faced As DOH Approves Letter Grades

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It was standing-room only today at a board meeting in which the Department of Health announced its ruling on the controversial letter-grading issue. After a two-hour hearing where members listened to opposition from Robert Bookman (attorney for the New York State Restaurant Association), the board voted 6–2 in favor of the bill. Restaurateurs in attendance were not happy. A red-faced Marc Murphy from Landmarc, who also complained at a public hearing last month, told us, “This just doesn’t seem right, and it’s going to be hurting a lot of businesses.”

Murphy’s and the NYSRA’s chief arguments are that having to display a poor grade for quibbling violations like a leaky faucet or an uncovered light bulb will mislead potential customers, and that the plan will encourage bribery of inspectors. “If you’re getting a B or a C,” Murphy told us, “people just won’t go into the restaurants. It’s not going to help the public, and it’s not going to help the people who are trying to keep their jobs. They [the DOH] are supposed to be educating the public, and they’re not educating the public at all, they’re making a fool out of them.” The bill is planned go into effect July 1.