Common Council Pres. suggests restaurant rating system for Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- If you'd like to know whether your favorite restaurant passed its last health inspection, the answer could, eventually be on the front door! Milwaukee officials are exploring the idea of a grading and rating system for restaurants.

The system would involve posting inspection grades on a restaurant's door.

A lot of customers seem to like the idea, but some restaurant owners aren't so sure.

"I do believe the public has the right to know if a restaurant is dirty for sure," Omar Shaikh said.

Shaikh is the president of SURG Restaurant Group. The group includes several restaurants, including Umami Moto in downtown Milwaukee.

Shaikh says he's on the fence about whether posting a restaurant's grade for cleanliness is a good idea.

"Anyone in any household or any restaurant can have an off day, and I think that`s why I need to learn more about the criteria -- if this is something that`s taken over time and then they set the grade based upon so many visits. If it`s based upon one visit, it may not be fair to the individual restaurant," Shaikh said.

Milwaukee's Common Council President Michael Murphy is working on an ordinance that would make Milwaukee more like New York and several other big cities, where grades based on inspections are posted on a restaurant's front door.

Some who live in the area already support the idea, and say they'd hesitate to go into a restaurant without a top grade.

"I'd have to think about it," Karan Nanda said.

But some question whether posted grades for hygiene are necessary.

"If it has a good grading or a bad grading, you may want to know. You kinda hear about it word of mouth, or online, blogging and Yelp," Jennifer Posluszny said.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association has already met with the Health Department to discuss a rating system. The Restaurant Association is against any plan that bases a restaurant's grade on a single inspection.

"It`s a snapshot. It`s a one day thing. To get that letter removed requires a re-inspection. How long is that gonna take?" Ed Lump, President & CEO of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association said.

The exact details of how a restaurant would be graded are still being worked out.

The Health Department says they are open to a rating system with letter grades -- like A, B, and C, but also maybe a color system, or numbers that would rank establishments. Health Department officials will be gathering input from customers and businesses.