Dear Patch Readers:
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Since we started this blog, we have had a significant amount of inquiries regarding NYC's Letter Grade System implemented by the Department of Health, a system that has cost the restaurant industry a lot of money, time and frustration. It all boils down to this, the system is good in that it forces restaurant owners to keep their establishment sanitary. However oftentimes, restaurant owners are subjected to fines because the rules are confusing, and/or they do not have adequate representation at hearings.
In order to address the questions emailed to us and give our community some guidance we will focus our next few blog entries on the Letter Grade System IN PLAIN ENGLISH:
Change as of January 19, 2011:
- If a restaurant receives fewer than 14 points for violations during an inspection, the restaurant WILL NO LONGER have to pay any fines for these violations, these fines are now waived.
- If a restaurant receives a B or C during the initial inspection, but receives an A on reinspection then the restaurant is still responsible to pay the fines that were imposed when the B grade was given.
- If during a hearing before the Health Tribunal, a hearing examiner dismisses any violations and brings the total score into the A range (fewer points than 14), the restaurant will NOT have to pay for the violations that are dismissed, however the restaurant is still responsible to pay the fines for violations that were not dismissed because the score received during the inspection was not in the A range.
- Letter grades focus on food safety and sanitary conditions. However a restaurant is still responsible to comply with many other legal requirements, like having a valid permit for example. During an inspection a health inspector will look into ALL these requirements. So it is possible for a restaurant to receive an A for sanitary conditions, however if they do not have a valid permit or are not maintaining a smoke free environment at the time of inspection, they will have to pay fines associated with those violations even though the letter grade received was an A.
Achieving and maintaining A’s has become vital to a restaurant's success. Besides heavy fines, and the horrible prospect of being shut down, more and more people are paying attention to these letter grades when choosing a restaurant to dine at.
We hope that the information we have provided will help answer questions that you may have. If however, you have a hearing scheduled, immediate violations to pay, or you think an inspection may be coming soon, speaking to an Attorney is definitely worth your while.
***We will make every effort to give thorough answers, however, replies should not be considered legal advice. Call 718-787-1811 to schedule a free consultation.