Even before the new restaurant grade rules were put into effect, DOH inspectors were out looking for dirt. According to the Daily News, the DOH shut down 1,758 restaurants in 2009, up 27% from the number of closures in 2008. Health officials say it's because they were able to check more restaurants than in previous years. Assistant Health Commissioner Daniel Kass said, "When you get to more, you are going to find more."
The DOH inspected 99% of the restaurants in the city last year. They got to just 80% of the restaurants the year before. In 2008 they were also spending more time looking for trans-fat and calorie count violations than for things like broken equipment, which results in an automatic closing. All these inspections mean more money for the city; the DOH collected $27.75 million in fines last year.
The city is hiring 50 more inspectors to give restaurants their letter grades this year, which must be prominently displayed in the windows. Restaurant owners aren't pleased with the new plan, and believe minor infractions could earn them low grades and fewer customers. Andrew Rigie from the New York State Restaurant Association said even temporary closings can hurt business. "It's very tough. It takes many hours to correct the problems, it can cost thousands of dollars and provides very bad PR for the restaurant."