Almost two years after his new system for grading restaurant cleanliness went into place, Mayor Bloomberg is calling victory. But some feel the stringent regulations are wreaking havoc on already overburdened restaurant owners.
Iggy's is just about as close as you'll get to a neighborhood pizzeria. Located on 2nd Avenue between 10th and 11th Street in New York City's historically bohemian East Village, Iggy's is well-priced, homey, and remarkably clean on the inside. The floors are spotless, the pizza display case is free of smudges, and the steel counters glisten.
If you asked the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH) however, they'd tell you that Iggy's is far from being perfectly clean. Under the department's new letter grade system, Iggy's was docked 24 violation points and given a B grade for infractions that include "Hot food item not held at or above 140º F," and "Food worker does not use proper utensil to eliminate bare hand contact with food that will not receive adequate additional heat treatment," according to the inspector's report.
Health inspections are nothing new to the New York restaurant scene, but in the summer of 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he was augmenting the process. Whereas the old system entailed a once-per-year pass or fail inspection, the new program would involve random examinations on an A to C scale. Restaurants would then have to pay fines for certain demerits and place their letter grade in plain sight on their front door or window. 0-13 points means an A, 14-27 a B, and 27+ a C. Anything less than an A is fined -- sometimes upwards of $1,000, depending on the type and severity of violation -- and automatically re-inspected again that year. The worst offenders are sometimes shuttered immediately if the inspector feels the restaurant is a critical risk to public health.