BALTIMORE, Md. - We know all about the dirty little secrets inside the places you eat in Baltimore because we've made information requests to look at these inspection reports. But unless a restaurant gets closed and posted on the web, you'd never know. One Baltimore City Councilman wants to change that so you’re better informed when you head out to eat.
Inspection reports hold all the secrets of Baltimore's restaurants. They detail dirty kitchens, bugs and rodents, and even bad food. We know about that after looking at thousands of reports over the years. But you'd never know the places you eat have a problem because they don't have to tell you what city inspectors find.
City Councilman Brandon Scott thinks that’s a problem. He says, "They already have to inspect these places. We just want the information; I just want the information, to be public."
Some information is made public on the Baltimore City Health Department's website, but restaurants are only listed when they’ve experienced a closure. Otherwise when you pick a place to eat, you're essentially dining blind, at least for now. Councilman Scott has proposed a bill to post more information for diners, explaining, “This bill would simply change the city's health code to force our health department to post letter grades on site and online for our restaurants and other food service facilities."
The letter grades would be similar to the ones posted in restaurants in New York and Los Angeles, leaving you no doubt. But how do restaurant owners feel about their record being the first thing you see? Casey Jenkins is the chef and owner of Darker Than Blue Café in Waverly. He says, "I'm competitive. And if i get a B, I want an A."
Jenkins says the idea of letter grades doesn't scare him. Instead he feels the accountability will compel restaurateurs to up their game, “It might drive some business away but what it does on the opposite end of that is it forces you to get better and that's what we're looking for with successful businesses in Baltimore."
Those businesses that serve food could now be held accountable with the same grades you got in grade school, although there's no hiding this report card. Jenkins says, "I think people are so well informed. They want to know every aspect of what's going on."
The Maryland Restaurant Association tells ABC2 they're still researching the topic and hope to meet with Councilman Scott and their membership before weighing in. The Baltimore City Health Department says they support the idea of posting inspection grades and are working with Councilman Scott. The councilman’s bill still has to make it through hearing and a council vote before you could see any changes.
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