Restaurant Makes The Best Out Of Health Department Ding

A Midtown Manhattan sandwich shop got less than stellar marks from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene decided to integrate its ‘B’ grade into some inaccurate, possibly ironic advertising.

As you can see from the Wall Street Journal picture accompanying this post, B is apparently for “best.” It follows that C must be for “crazy awesome” and D would be for “divine.”

Restaurant Makes Best Out of ‘B’ Grade [The Wall Street Journal via BoingBoing]


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  1. DariusC says:

    Illegal? Probably not. Assinine? Yes.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      I wonder. If you didn’t know that the NYC DOH used letter grades, you might think that this restaurant got a “Best” rating in its last health inspection. I’d call it fraudulent.

      Sure, you’d have to be a little gullible to think that, but if the restaurant is legally required to display the notice (anyone know for sure?), it’s probably going to get dinged for trying to disguise it at all.

      • DariusC says:

        I am almost positive that the department contacted the store and had them take it down as soon as this was published.

        I highly doubt it is still there and if it is, there is undoubtably a lawsuit pending.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    That has got to be false advertising.

  3. FatLynn says:

    No, no, they just cropped out the edge of the picture with the year. It is supposed to say “EST. 1997”

  4. jason in boston says:

    I think this is pretty clever.

  5. Spacek06 says:

    It’s like a kid trying to spin a B into something more positive to his parents who constantly hound him to get straight A’s. But hey, I’m sure sandwiches are different than my childhood :-P

  6. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    “BS” is more like it.

  7. Bernardo says:

    I really hope they get a ticket or even better shut down. Thats not fare to the consumer and makes of mockery of the rating system in the first place which as is, is already to soft. Its cute till you go home with food poisining and then its not funny anymore.

  8. demona667 says:

    Clever, but shady.

  9. LightningUsagi says:
  10. Wysguy says:

    sure, we wouldn’t want them to do anything silly, like, clean the place up?

  11. Sian says:

    *slow clap*


    BTW I’m pretty sure I saw this story first break somewhere around last year? I can’t be remembering the future, can I?

  12. RubiksDude says:
  13. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    Hmm – they should’ve worked a little harder on the color. But at least it’s the same font. The ‘CARDS’ window that some people linked doesn’t even use the same font for the rest of the letters.

  14. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    It’s like in school when you got a D and you added a little dash to try to make it look like a B. It doesn’t really work, and you always get caught.

  15. PercyChuggs Was Found At JFK Airport says:

    Uh, isn’t a B a more-than-passing, very good grade? Since when is that unacceptable? I would be willing to bet most of the commenters who want the place shut down have eaten at far worse; they just don’t display their inspection grades. If an A is zero violations, what could a B grade…be? A trash can that hasn’t been emptied in a while? A dirty knife on a counter? OH NO I MIGHT GET POISONED AND DIE FROM THIS PASSING GRADE RESTAURANT.

    • StutiCebriones says:

      That was my reaction. Maybe the restaurant could have a promotion where students bring in their report cards, and anyone with perfectly good B’s gets a discount.

    • snowmentality says:

      You obviously have no idea how restaurant health grades work. An “A” isn’t zero violations; you can have quite a few icky things going on and still squeak into an A. A “B” means you’ve got people not washing their hands, roaches egregiously crawling on stuff, raw chicken left out on a counter for hours, and so forth.

      • youbastid says:

        You obviously have no idea how restaurant violations work. A number of small violations can lead to a “B” rating, like drippy faucets. “Raw chicken being left on the counter for hours” is not something that can be observed by health inspectors, since they don’t stand there for hours watching chicken. But if they see raw chicken sitting at room temperature, you can be damn sure that restaurant is getting at least a C. Roaches crawling on stuff/rodent infestation is grounds for an immediate closure until it’s corrected.

        There are tons of “B”s out there that are otherwise pristine. I consider a “B” to be “Probably fine, but proceed with caution” as in, “If there are any other warning signs, forget about it.”

        I’ve also been in an “A” and seen a mouse, so there’s always the issue of corruption.

        A “C” however, is a pretty clear sign that you should keep moving.

    • dru_zod says:

      A “B” is apparently pretty bad. I always look at a restaurant’s rating when I’m about to eat there, and I have only seen two decent restaurants with a “B” rating in my local area in the past 10 years or so. That big “B” hanging on the wall really stands out when most places have a high “A”, so I figured these places must have had some issues and I didn’t eat there.

      I did see one other “B” rating once at a little drug store diner. I was in the drug store buying something, not eating at the diner, but it was the messiest looking kitchen I had ever seen in what was supposed to be a business. There were old, yellow newspapers laying around all over the counters, dirty dishes piled up, and more. It was such a mess, I wondered why it only had a “B” and hadn’t been shut down.

    • dru_zod says:

      Oh, and I do believe that restaurants are required to post their inspection grades where customers can see them, and if they do not, they can get in trouble for it. So just not displaying a bad grade is not going to help anyone.

  16. phrekyos says:
  17. says:

    If it’s not against the rules now, it probably will be the next time they review it.

  18. Itsatrap says:

    According to the NYC Department of Health website, the restaurant (Cer Te – according to the WSJ) received 26 points and had several critical violations.

    NYC Dep of Health (and search for Cer Te)

    According to the pdf “How We Score and Grade,” which is also on the website, this is only 2 points away from a C and therefore requiring monthly inspections until it is fixed (or shut down).

    • Rachacha says:

      According to the guidelines that were enacted in July 2010:

      “How should consumers interpret grades of B or C?
      In the first year or so of grading, we expect that most restaurants will earn a B grade. Restaurants with B or C grades should improve their overall food safety practices, but the Health Department immediately closes restaurants with conditions that may be hazardous to public health.

      In other words, in the regulator’s eyes, these guys are doing pretty good.

  19. Coalpepper says:

    Chuckles, “Amusing, inaccurate, but not by much. What’s it take to get an A? How many grades are there? How do they fit together? It sounds silly, but depending on what it takes to get an A, A might mean exceptional, B excellent, C average, D below average, and F… Well that needs no explanation. If that’s the case, B isn’t all that bad of a rating really, although they’ll likely get in trouble for trying to claim it that its short for best.”

    • Gulliver says:

      No, B does not mean excellent. It is the MIDDLE grade. It means they need to fix problems. I am glad those that think they know what the grade meeans feel safe eating at a restaurant with 26 violations of health codes. Let me know how that works for you while sitting on the shitter. Of course most people do not attribute it to their food, they generally will say, “it’s a 24 hour bug”. The reality is most 24 hour bugs are food borne illness.

      • buckeyegoose says:

        I’ve been on the shitter from a Green or A rated place so, in my eyes the grade is just Security Theater, while I’ll be more likely to eat at a place rated Green/A over a yellow/B or White/Needs Improvement. Don’t mean I still don’t have the chance of ending up sitting in the same place that night.

      • Coalpepper says:

        Chuckles, “I live in Phoenix, and i can’t say i’ve seen a grade posted any where, the only time i know a place has flunked is when KPHO features it on their weekly Dirty Dining Report. Now i know to worry when i’m somewhere that takes food safety seriously, danke.”

  20. MTFaye says:

    I’ve been through culinary school, and worked in the food industry as a cook for a while now. I can say with confidence that a restaurant with 26 health code violations is pretty terrible. The place I currently work recently just barely managed to shave by with a perfect score. That’s pretty impressive. Its hard to get a perfect score; VERY hard. Some of the things they grade you on are pretty asinine, and sometimes you simply don’t have time to do things 100% correctly. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re being unsafe, but that you might be doing a few things that are bad habits which could lead to unsafe conditions. So, a few minor violations is really no big deal, and I would assume its perfectly safe to eat there. Twenty six? That means something is seriously, seriously wrong.

  21. sopmodm14 says:

    it should be against regulation to have the grade manipulated like that, and that the grade notice shouldn’t have any other postings within a certain amount of inches from the notice

    if they have curb clearance for fire hydrants, they should have it for such govt regulatory postings in the interest of public health

  22. Tiandli says:

    It makes me wonder what else they do behind the kitchen door they don’t want customers to know about.

  23. kajillion says:

    Our food is Fantastic!

    • caradrake says:

      I like “Our food is Flavorful” better – and in many cases, it’s probably fairly accurate… they just don’t disclose what flavors.

  24. Puddy Tat says:

    That is a great way to deal with a lower rating LOL….

    BTW, Did you know that some chinese places fight for a B rating rather then an A – due to all the best places have a B Department of Health Sticker!