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Restaurant rating pilot underway in South Charleston, Corridor G

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Patrons of restaurants in South Charleston and on Corridor G should begin to see new, color-coded ratings posted in those eateries.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department's six-month pilot program for a new restaurant rating system began Wednesday. The first two inspection reports under the new pilot were posted Thursday morning in the Las Trancas restaurant at Southridge Centre and the soon-to-open Cabela's, which sells food as well as sporting goods.

Registered sanitarian David Winowich, who inspected the businesses, said both received excellent ratings, but in different ways.

Las Trancas had some critical violations, but restaurant employees corrected them before the sanitarian left. Cabela's had no critical violations to begin with.

"The color-coded [rating] reflects the corrected score," Winowich said. "You could have 10 critical and 30 non-critical and correct them all [and have a good score]."

It's for that reason that Winowich advised restaurant patrons to read all of the rating form, which lists the corrected violations, not just the rating itself.

The posted rating forms indicate how the restaurant was when Winowich leaves, not how it was when he arrived, he said.

No matter what rating a restaurant gets, the ratings are "snapshots in time" of how the business comply with the food code, he said.

"That's just the way it was when I was here," Winowich said.

Under the new restaurant rating system, sanitarians give each eatery a rating of excellent, good or fair compliance with the food code, depending on each business's critical and non-critical violations. The ratings are typed in big letters and color-coded: green for excellent, yellow for good and orange for fair.  The form also lists the restaurants' critical and non-critical violations.

Health officials had hoped sanitarians would able to print inspection reports at the restaurants with the help of new software and portable printers. Kanawha-Charleston was one of 10 health departments in the state to receive the equipment as a part of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

For now, while officials work through some issues with the new equipment, Winowich is printing the forms at the health department and taking them back to the restaurants the next day.

"Hopefully soon we'll be [printing the forms] in the field," he said.

The pilot program for the rating system will last six months and affect businesses on Corridor G and in South Charleston.

"We hope we get lots of feedback [about the rating system]," Winowich said, "be it negative or positive."

Health-department officials will be accepting comments about the rating system on the environmental section of the department's website, http://www.kchdwv.org/Home/Environmental.aspx, by email at environmental@kchdwv.org or by phone at 304-348-8050.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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