By Mack Burke & Andrea González-Ramírez

New York City is known for its diversity of people and cuisines. Since 2010, the city has inspected restaurants to ensure they comply with the health and sanitation requirements. Currently almost 158,000 restaurants around the city have an “A” health inspection grade. This is our idea: based on data published by NYC Open Data, we want to make ideally a map of the restaurants in the different boroughs and cluster them by type of cuisine and their health grade. The ideas we want to explore are some of the following: Where are the biggest concentrations of restaurants with the “best” and “worst” grades? Why could this be? Do people actually care about the Health & Sanitation grade?

Additional to this data, will also complement the story with two charts: one showcasing the percentages of A, B and C-rated restaurants per borough and a chart showing which are the most recurring health violations according to the inspections’ results.

Data’s description and link:

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducts unannounced inspections of restaurants around the city at least once a year. Designed inspectors check for compliance in food handling, food temperature, personal hygiene and vermin control during each inspection. Each violation of a regulation gets a certain number of points. At the end of the inspection, the inspector totals the points, and this number is the restaurant’s inspection score—the lower the score, the better the Grade. NYC Open Data just made it available to the public.


These are the kind of sources that we interviewed or are going to interview for our story.

  • Restaurant owners: What does the grading system means for their restaurants? Have they ever encountered a “bad” grade? What did that mean for their business?
  • NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: How is the inspection process done? Why is it so important? What about the cultural differences that sometimes affect the way meals are made and it doesn’t conform to the regulations? Contact: NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, (212) 442-9666
  • New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA): Back when the grading system 1was established, the New York State Restaurant Association was opposed to it. How do they feel about it right now? What benefits do they think the system has for business owners now? Contact: Ashley Rodriguez, Administrative Assistant Greater NYC Chapter, NYSRA, (212) 398-9160