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City Council held hearing on restaurant grades

March 7, 2012 2:20:09 PM PST
The New York City Council held a hearing Wednesday to chew over the impact of giving letter grades to restaurants.

Some council members say that while they like the system, it's still far from perfect and should be reviewed.

The New York State Restaurant Association has said the grades are punitive and a financial burden on small businesses.

Two and a half hours after restaurant representatives came to City Hall to speak, not one had been given the chance, so with Chambers packed they stepped outside.

"I came here to talk!" said Larry Liedy, a bar owner.

Larry Liedy owns the oldest bar in Staten Island.

"I don't sell food! A guy comes in, he had a sandwich! I didn't know, $600 fine!" Liedy said.

The owner of nine restaurants claims the inspectors make it tough, like trying to hit a moving target.

"Does it surprise you that most restaurant owners that get an A don't like the system?" Eyewitness News asked.

"No! A scoop in the ice is going to cost you $400! I can't watch every employee!" an owner said.

"If you're going to do inspections, do them! This is a cash cow!" another restaurant owner said.

"This is highway robbery, you are destroying the restaurant industry!" said Pasquale Canale, of Hero Factory.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and health officials said Tuesday the letter grades had led to increased business at the city's 24,000 eateries and lower numbers of salmonella infections in 2011.

Humble delis and star-powered restaurants alike receive grades of A, B or C for sanitary conditions. An eatery that repeatedly gets Cs could run the risk of being closed.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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