Milwaukee restaurant letter grade program at risk of being shut down

NOW: Milwaukee restaurant letter grade program at risk of being shut down

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A possible policy change in Madison would mean the city of Milwaukee could be forced to end its new restaurant grading program.

What is the grading program now?

Health inspectors give the ‘A’, ‘B’, or ‘C’ grades and they’re posted outside of local restaurants. The grades reflect the number of health code violations a restaurant has. Inspectors are looking at things like food temperatures and how clean the restaurant is. Milwaukee’s grading system started back in January.

What do restaurant owners think about the grading program?

Dom & Phil DeMarinis’ in Bayview has an ‘A’ rating. The owner, Philip DeMarinis said it gives his customers peace of mind.

“They know the restaurant is clean, it’s been approved,” DeMarinis said. “To show the public you're a clean place, a place you want to bring your family is a good thing.”

Café Corazón in Riverwest also has an ‘A’ rating and believes the system is beneficial.

“It allows a restaurant to have an official channel to show if they're doing things right or doing things wrong,” Assistant General Manager John Vanakkeren said.

Why is the restaurant grading program at risk?

The state wants to adjust to the FDA’s code, which would eliminate grades and scores. State officials didn’t respond to CBS 58 News’ request for comment Sunday. 

Milwaukee officials aren’t happy with the potential change. Alderman Michael Murphy plans to hold a press conference Monday with Mayor Tom Barrett to talk about why they support the current system in place.

“This would be state officials reaching in to Milwaukee and ending a food grading system that is not only popular with customers and the public, but also with restaurant and establishment owners,” Murphy said.

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