The restaurant letter grading system, an initiative of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) in 2010 to reduce food-borne illnesses from city eateries, may see an overhaul.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and a number of other local elected officials announced a new legislative package that would reduce fines, establish an office for feedback and create incentives with fine waivers for restaurant owners who contest initial inspection verdicts.
“With this package, we’re taking steps to ensure that the restaurant inspection process is fair,” Quinn announced at Jerry’s Café on Chambers Street in Manhattan. “The bills improve the lot of struggling restaurant owners while preserving a system that is valuable to, and more importantly protects the safety of, New Yorkers.”
The proposed reform includes the creation of an advisory board to review restaurant inspections and grading relief from violations related to the physical layout, as well as improving the reporting process.
There will also be an “inspection code of conduct pamphlet” to be distributed among restaurant owners and operators prior to their initial inspections.
“The restaurant industry, with its foundation of small businesses, is the lifeblood of NYC and our legislation includes important measures so that restaurants can continue to thrive without jeopardizing public health,” Quinn said.
Council members Diana Reyna, Jimmy Van Bramer and dozens more in support of the proposal joined Quinn and members of the NYC Hospitality Alliance to promote the legislation.
“The restaurant inspection process is vital to ensuring that all of our city’s restaurants adequately meet health and safety standards,” Van Bramer said. “It is our hope that this package of legislation will create a fairer inspection system that balances the needs of our city’s small business owners while meeting the requirements of the Department of Health.”
According to Reyna, the proposal will ensure a more united approach from the city in an effort to work with local small businesses.
“Our small businesses deserve a fair playing field that allows the well-intentioned a chance to succeed and add to the richness of the community in which they operate,” Reyna said.