There's good news for anyone planning to go out for dinner this evening.
New York City's Health Department released the results of its first round of restaurant grading and 57 percent got A's and 30 percent got B's.
The Health Department has visited 10,000 restaurants so far, and hopes to visit all 24,000 by the end of the year.
Of the eateries that got B's on their first inspection, 44 percent improved to an A when the Health Department came back a second time.
72 percent of the restaurants that scored C's on the first inspection got A's or B's on the second go round.
From the Wall Street Journal
Restaurants that don't receive an A on the first inspection are re-inspected about a month later. After the second inspection they must either post their letter grade at the entrance of the restaurant or appeal their grade to an administrative tribunal, during which time they can post a "Grade Pending" sign.
Some in the restaurant business are still grumbling about the department's grading system.
"Our goal is that the vast majority of New York City restaurants receive A's," said Andrew Rigie, director of operations for the city's chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association. "However, the current structure of the letter grade system makes it difficult for even the most sanitary restaurant in New York City to receive an A on all inspections, not because they are not absolutely safe to eat at but because of the inherently misguided letter grading system."
Mayor Bloomberg recently tweaked the grading policy by allowing restaurants to avoid fines if they get an A on the first inspection. Previously, even establishments that got an A on their initial visit still had to pay fines, which range between $200 and $2,000.
Bennett Orfaly, owner of several Pita Grill restaurants, said the city intentionally goes harder on restaurants the first go round so that they have to pay fines.
"Very few people will get that A upfront," Orfaly said. "They do that so you can get the A eventually but you still have to pay the initial fines. So it's a pat on the back."
The department started grading restaurants six months ago. The worst grade given out is a C (which high-end restaurants Le Cirque and Gramercy Tavern received).
UPDATE: Grub Street reports that Gramercy Tavern received an 'A' on its follow-up.