Hartford to Begin Grading Restaurants

Restaurants will get an A, B or fail and must display a card.

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Your favorite restaurants in Hartford will soon be graded by the city to show you whether they meet health inspectors’ standards.

This month, a city ordinance goes into effect that requires restaurants and food service establishments to display signs with the letter grade they received.

A restaurant gets an A if it scores 90 to 100 or a B if it scores 80 to 89. The letter grade is based solely on the restaurant’s most recent health inspection score.

Any establishment to score lower than that, or to get four demerits, is re-inspected within two weeks. Should it fail again, it could be closed.

“Our diverse, quality restaurants are just one of the things that make Connecticut’s Capital City a great destination,” Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said in a statement issued in December. “We are committed to ensuring that food service establishments adhere to safety and cleanliness guidelines and that the information is in the public’s hands.”

Customers said the letter grades will definitely influence where they dine.

“I would definitely think twice before going in a restaurant that scores something other than an 'A,'" Doreen Desimone of South Windsor said.

Restaurant owners, though, have mixed feelings about letter grades being slapped on their front doors.

“It’ll certainly keep me on my toes, which is what they want. It’s the Scarlet Letter on the door, I guess,” Darrell Sullivan, owner of Lena’s Pizzeria, said.

The city’s new grading system is modeled after similar systems in New York and Los Angeles.  

Stamford and Farmington also have ratings systems in place.  

City officials said the grading will not apply to cafeterias in schools or hospitals.

Food service establishments will be required to display the score placards prominently, according to the ordinance.
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