Let’s dish: Does a restaurant grade matter to you?

Ceol on Smith Street had some fun with their grade. Via Eater.

When you see that ominous ‘C’ brooding in the window of your favorite grungy taqueria, does it make you turn and walk back to the safety of a cleaner chain restaurant? It does for a lot of New York diners, according to this new study released today by a company called Excellent Tones (which swears it is a real company, not a Bill & Ted cover band). The study says one third of NYC customers are “concerned with health grades,” meaning restaurants are losing business because of the city’s controversial rating system. If true, this could be a big issue: only half of the city’s restaurants received an ‘A’ rating, 31 percent received a ‘B’ and 18 a ‘C.’ The ratings system has created a lot of grief lately: Even City Council speaker Christine Quinn released a study last month that says two thirds of restaurants have been forced to spend more money since the grading system went into effect.

So what say you brokesters? Do you trust the rating system enough to change your dining plans, or does a low grade make it some sort of cheap badge of honor? After all, the best burrito I ever had was at a roadside stand in Venice Beach, Calif., which proudly displayed its ‘C’ rating in the window, although when you don’t eat meat, you’re way less concerned about whether the goat meat is tainted.

10 Comment

  • Letter grades are kind of tricky in the New York system, I’ve been in places where they have certain “pest” problems and still get an “A”, and there are some sushi places where they refuse to wear gloves when working because it’s tradition, and supposedly makes the sushi better (which grabs them a “B”, even though they’re perfectly clean). Of course, not much of it really matters in the end, as restaurants can get as dirty as they want (and sometimes do) before and after the inspections, which don’t happen that often.

  • Absolutely… If I see a low grade, I get a pit in my stomach at the thought of what the inspector found.

    Regarding the controversy, if the inspectors are giving worse ratings in order to benefit in some way… that’s a big issue.

    But if the controversy is that businesses are getting legit bad grades and having a financial burden to correct real problems… no controversy. From my perspective they have a systemic problem that they’ve been called out on.

    If a restaurant gets a bad rating and then fixes it… I still think twice before eating there as a result.

  • my favorite thing is when a restaurant says it has closed for “renovations,” when they really mean “shut down by the health department.”

  • You can’t let anything stop you from trying something that could be earth-shatteringly delicious.

  • I have a strong stomach. I wouldn’t think twice about eating at a place with a ‘B’ grade. If a restaurant I’ve been to in the past and enjoy receives a ‘C’, I would still eat there, and hope that the grade was a result of bureaucratic overzealousness. But if it’s a place I’ve never been to before, I probably wouldn’t go there if it was a ‘C’.

  • That 10% stronger NYC immune system I have balances out low restaurant grades. Right?

  • I have looked up the details on restaurant inspections online and I have noticed that despite some infractions that would give me pause, the restaurant still received an “A”. Using that logic, you wouldn’t want to have a restaurant score anything below an “A”. A “C” would be more like an “F” to me.

  • Since I was a teen, I’ve assumed every meal I eat out contains some amount of rat turds and roach legs. So I don’t sweat letter grades.

  • You know, we should be asking the restaurants whether they’re concerned. For any place to say “yeah, we’re dirty as hell, come eat our food!” is just irresponsible. it’s not romantic, it’s not ‘charming’, it’s scary and they should probably get handwashing stations or fix the roach problems instead of just mocking what tends to be a pretty accurate grading response to their level of hygiene.

  • Three years ago I bought a restraunt. Although the food was very good before I bought it I never ate there. I had worked there previously and it was so disgustingly dirty there was no way I would have eaten there.
    Now that I own it it is very clean and we have tripled our sales. I often wonder how it is that they were not shut down and they certainly must have scored low on their ratings.
    I think the public should know what the ratings are. People have right to know they are eating off plates that aren’t clean, with kitchen crew not wearing gloves and the same dirty rags being used for days in a row. Unfortunately, our state does not post ratings.