A restaurant owner’s biggest fear is being shut down by the health department. With the use of social media, public awareness of food borne illness has spread like the plague in cyber space. In New York City, the difference between an “A” or a “B” letter grade in your window can make or break your restaurant business.
A duo of two of the industry’s young and brightest stars; Rada Tarnovsky and Leon Lubarsky, have teamed up to create Letter Grade Consulting (LGC). The Brooklyn based firm has created a portfolio of solutions to establish a strategy that enables the restaurateur to stay ahead of the strict demands of the health department.
“A client of ours did some studies and research and he found out that if his A grade dropped to a B, that would cost him roughly 30% in revenue,” Tarnovsky explains the difference between letter grades. “The city also put out a number stating that restaurants that have an A letter grade have 9.7% greater income than those who don’t,” Lubarsky noted on statistics.
Initially, Letter Grade Consulting based their idea off their desire to assist food service establishments in complying with NYC health department regulations, which has become a key element to their survival, and ultimately a philosophy. “When we moved our law practice to a new location in Carroll Gardens, where we were surrounded by restaurants, we saw the struggles and disconnect between the health department and restaurants. It was a natural progression to make a bridge between the two,” Tarnovsky stated. With a common goal to give the customer a “worry-free” meal, LGC provides programs to help improve your business. This philosophy has spread like wild fire and seems to be a necessity for most restaurants in the Metro NYC area.
Earlier this month, NYC Food Service Restaurants slapped the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) with $150 million lawsuit claiming that violations issued during health department inspections were excessive and unjust. Although this caused revenue for the city, there was ultimately a loss of business. Forty restaurants filed the complaint in NY Supreme Court claiming that the inspectors were not properly trained and that most of the fines given had nothing to do with food.
According to the team behind LGC “Food service establishments have a duty to serve and prepare food in an environment that operates according to the rules and regulations set out by the health code. Consumers have a fundamental right to eat food that is free from contamination and prepared in clean violation free surroundings. The Letter Grade System’s requirement of posting a grade in the window has not changed any rights or responsibilities of operators. What it has done, is given consumers access to information so that they are able make informed decisions when choosing where to dine. Although compliance with this system is not new, or impossible, it requires consistent oversight. We strive to provide operators with the tools necessary in order to ensure compliance.”
LGC offers services, solutions, education, training, attorney tribunal representation and much more. They serve various establishments including corporate cafeterias, restaurant chains, upscale restaurants, hotels, catering companies and local eateries. “We inspect for everything every single time to eliminate error. Our monthly mock inspections take out the element of panic.”
Their fundamental objective is to maintain a violation free kitchen and testimonials prove just that. “We give them a daily protocol to follow so they know what to do and what to look for,” Tarnovsky notes on the system they established to help restaurant owners succeed.
Letter Grade Consulting has opened the eyes of many in the Metro NYC area. “We believe that the system is here to stay for all of the good reasons of why it was implemented. We live in an age of social media and awareness so it is here to stay, ” Tarnovsky notes on the increased knowledge of this philosophy. With similar letter grading headed for outposts across the country, look for LGC to become a national leader as well in the near future.
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