Does the restaurant letter grading system need an overhaul?

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ASTORIA, QUEENS (PIX11) – “The first thing they do is come to the kitchen. They start with what’s open, what’s uncovered,” Ted Passelis, part owner of Grand Cafe in Astoria Queens says.

After we play health inspector for the day with Passelis, we learn how important grading signs are to keeping a restaurant profitable.

“An inspector comes in, he’s basically making a decision whether this year you’re having more customers or less customers.”

But unlike Passelis’s restaurant who has cooked up an “A” rating for nearly a decade, many mom and pop shops struggle.

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It’s something mayoral candidate Christine Quinn has long opposed.

Over the weekend she cut a deal with the Health Department to chop off $10 million a year in fine collections.

“Letter grading was always designed to help the public know what restaurants were healthy, it was never designed to nickel and dime restaurants,” she said in a recent press conference.

Quinn and restaurant owners don’t think the grading system should go away, but say it’s time to give workers a chance to clean things up without getting shortchanged so quickly.