The New York City Health Department’s system for grading restaurants can be a pain for chefs and restaurateurs. “If the Health Department comes during service and you are tempering meat or fish to cook, they are going to give you a 10-point fine right there, and at a couple hundred bucks a point it adds up,” one Brooklyn restaurant chef tells Fork in the Road, preferring to remain anonymous. “It’s nothing more than a way to up revenues for the government.” What’s a chef to do? According to the Daily News, some restaurants have discovered a new way to avoid the letter grades: Register with the state as a supermarket.
Indeed, several restaurants that sell products to local groceries or are attached to big supermarkets have claimed they are retail spaces, thus avoiding the letter-grade system, even though many are full-scale restaurants.
These new eateries are placed under state controls that don’t require publicly displayed letter grades and have only once-a-year inspections. However, most of the eateries listed include more casual spots like bagel eateries and pizza spots, and it would be difficult for an upscale restaurant to pass through this loophole. What’s more, Mayor Bloomberg now wants to expand the restaurant grading even further to cover halal carts and hot-pretzel stands, but keeping track of roving vendors would prove impossible. “I would [register] if I could,” explained the Brooklyn chef. “The rating system is so arbitrary; some of the inspectors are nice, and others such assholes.”