07/29/2010 08:56 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Spark's Deli Gets First A For Food Safety, Still Gets Fined For Violations (VIDEO)


NEW YORK (AP) - A deli in Queens gets New York City's first A for food safety.

The city rolled out its new system of awarding letter grades to restaurants Wednesday. Health Commissioner Thomas Farley presented an A to Spark's Deli in Long Island City.

Deli owner Jose Araujo says he's proud to see the A in his window.

The city awards grades based on cleanliness and whether food is kept at the right temperature. Restaurants that don't earn an A the first time will be given a chance to bring their grade up before they must display a B or a C.

Farley says most restaurants maintain good conditions, but lapses in food safety can cause preventable illnesses.

UPDATE: Despite all the hoopla, the city still fined Spark's Deli $800 for nonfood-related violations. Apparently a cashier was (gasp) drinking coffee in a nonfood area, as well as infractions.

"Every time a health inspector comes in here," Araujo told the Times, "I know it's going to cost me."

WATCH the ceremony: