Fake Inspections Help Restaurants Get Good Grades
Out of fear of receiving the dreaded “B” or “C” grades from the Health Department, more and more restaurateurs are turning to consulting companies that will conduct fake health inspections of their restaurants. Leon Lubarsky and Rada Tarnovsky, who founded Letter Grade Consulting last spring, offer inspection drills, plus representation at violation appeals and advice on navigating the murky DOH system. They charge restaurants $250 for one-off inspections, or thousands of dollars for a year-long contract, which for restaurants like the Flatiron Room involves inspections every month. In comparison, DOH fines for a single violation can range from $200 to $2,000, plus there’s the loss of business over bad grades, and the fact that some landlords have now added an “A” grade to the requirements of the lease.
Eventually, a legislation package in the works should create more resources for restaurants from the DOH itself, including free practice inspections for new restaurants, and a hotline for questions and complaints. In the meantime, the NYC Hospitality Alliance, which has been active in pushing reforms to the inspection system, offers its own mock inspections to members for $150 an hour.