When we launched Letter Grade Consulting, our goal was to help operators navigate the newly enacted Letter Grade System. We received a lot of press, publications like Crain’s, NY Times, and Wall Street Journal, to name a few. Besides understanding the types of services we would be providing, reporters wanted to interview clients, to get their feedback. Very few were willing.
As amazing as that press was for the growth of our company, we learned a very important lesson. We realized that although operators understood the necessity of complying with the System, and fully appreciated our mission to go above and beyond the requirements, they did not want to talk about the fact that they were paying for compliance. It wasn’t one of those OMG moments, it made perfect sense. There was a certain stigma attached to the services we were providing.
Although pest control is mandatory in foodservice, in life when we think of exterminators, we automatically think there must be a problem. When quite the opposite is true. People hire exterminators because they don’t want roaches, and if done diligently, they won’t. Same goes for compliance.
The majority of our clients come to us with “A” letter grades. They understand that in a city like New York, no other grade is acceptable. They understand that it’s not just about the food that they serve, it’s about the environment they serve it in. We do not come in because they are unsanitary. They spend money and time to ensure that they operate at the highest level of food safety because they want to. Hiring professionals is a testament of their commitment.
We live in a time when food service establishments are celebrated for being efficient, sustainable, organic. Why are we not celebrating the restaurants, bars, theatres, corporate cafeterias and hotels that are hiring professionals to ensure food safety? Engaging professionals for food safety compliance, doesn’t mean they are dirty, it means they will never be. It means their patrons are safe.
Every once in a while. I come across a restaurant that posts their “A” on social media, usually it’s a picture of their team holding the “A”, celebrating their achievement. But not often enough.
According to the New York Times, there are over 26,000 restaurants in NYC subject to the Letter Grade System, over 4,000 of them had violations related to mice and over 1000 were closed due to unsanitary conditions. Compliance isn’t easy, it takes effort, commitment and know how. That’s why we say leave it to professionals.
But the truth is, no matter how you get there, compliance should be celebrated. For us patrons, knowing that a restaurant, café or bar goes above the requirements when it comes to food safety, cleanliness, and sanitation, should make us want to eat there.
Hiring professionals to ensure the highest levels food safety, doesn’t mean a restaurant needs help because they are not up to par, it means they care. It means they are clean and committed. It means we should eat there. Compliance isn’t a 4 letter word.