The Health Department conducts unannounced inspections of restaurants at least once a year, that give the establishment the letter grade you see in the window. This is in addition to random, spot inspections that do not result in a letter grade.
Inspectors check for compliance in:
Each violation is assigned a certain number of points, with the more severe having a higher value.
The lower the score, the better the Grade.
Violations fall into three categories:
A public health hazard, like not keeping food at the right temperature (41° for cold, 140° for hot), would be a deduction of 7 points, minimum, if the situation cannot be fixed before the inspection ends, the Health Department may shut down the restaurant.
A critical violation, (marked on the site with ) such as serving raw vegetables without washing them first, has a score of 5 points.
A general violation, like improperly thawing of food, holds a minimum point value of 2 points.
Some violations are cited, but do not count against the score. (Not posting the food permit)
A restaurant has two chances to earn an A in every inspection cycle.
If it doesn't earn an A on the first inspection, it's scored but ungraded. An inspector goes back to the restaurant unannounced, typically within a month, to inspect it again and the re-inspection is graded.
If the grade is a B or C, the restaurant will receive a grade card and a grade pending card. It can post either card until it has an opportunity to be heard at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings Health Tribunal.