The Challenges of Earning an A

Since the Health Department’s grading program launched in 2010, restaurateurs have been feeling the additional pressure of earning and maintain an A, reports the Wall Street Journal. Further increasing the stakes is the public’s accessibility to restaurant grades. A smartphone app that gives a break-down of restaurants’ letter grades, scores and health violations, introduced by the Health Department in 2012 has been downloaded 44,000 times and maintains a database of 24,000 restaurants.

Pressure from the heavy value the public places on the letter grades restaurants earn has some restaurateurs turning to restaurants consultants who will perform mock health inspections ranging typically from a $250 one-time fee to thousands of dollars for yearly contracts.

A 2012 Quinnipiac University study found 82% of survey participants support the use of letter grades to evaluate restaurants and 67% consider letter grades when deciding where to eat.

Often, consultants end up in the position of informing restaurant owners about the ironies of the system. The presence of mice may not cause a restaurant to lose its A rating, however not having a person on site with a food-protection certificate, awarded by the city after completing a 15-hour course, will likely greater risk.

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