Yesterday we asked whether you’d still go to a restaurant if it got a C grade under new Health Department rules. The manager of one of the hypothetical failing-grade establishments we listed, Chad J. Currier of Monkey Bar (it received 60 demerit points in an inspection earlier this month), informs us that on Monday, the restaurant passed a follow-up inspection with a respectable eight points (that puts it safely in the A range). The problem, says Currier, was that the restaurant had a Cryovac machine, as well as some meat that had been Cryo-packed by its shipper, on hand. Monkey Bar has never used the machine (it doesn’t employ sous-vide cooking), but nevertheless, the Health Department docked it for not having the required HAACP plan. Now the machine is off-site (if you’re looking for one and want this sort of headache on your hands, give Currier a call!), and all is well. “I have no quarrel with what they found,” says Currier. “I’m just distressed that it amounted to more than half the points that we were allocated, and I’m also distressed that it was public record and it has a variety of interpretations.” Which raises the question: How does Currier feel about letter grades?
Currier points out that the inspection process is “very subjective and quite vague. They’ll find what they want to find.” He suggests that “the grade of a restaurant should be the average of its last two inspections or some such thing,” and adds, “I have friends who are Department of Health consultants, and they’re not too big on the idea of the letter grade. We’re aware that there are a lot of localities in the United States that use letter grades but they don’t see the practicality in New York. Either you’re safe or you’re not safe.” In fact, he says that even the inspector who followed up on Monkey Bar’s original inspection was sympathetic: “This person’s opinion was, ‘What does the city council know about what the inspection process is like?’” And Currier seems to agree: “I understand perfectly what the City Council’s objective is, but when we’re looking at nuances here, I question the practicality and viability of this — is it really going to be leading to good restaurateurizing?”