City launches new grading system for restaurants

Courtesy of City of Milwaukee Health Department

Five O’Clock Steakhouse on Tuesday was the first restaurant to be inspected under the city’s new Sanitation Grading System— a letter grade designation based on annual health and sanitation inspections of licensed food establishments.

Courtesy of City of Milwaukee Health Department

The longtime restaurant, located at 2416 W. State St., will now voluntarily display a placard with the letter “A,” indicating a perfect score– no code violations– from the Health Department’s inspection.

According to the Health Department website, letter grades of A,B, or C correlate with a possible point value of 100 points that reduces with each documented violation of the 2009 Wisconsin Food Code.

If an establishment receives a C, a grade below 60 points or is considered an “imminent health hazard,” the establishment will temporarily close until it corrects major violations. Establishments can earn points back after a re-inspection. 

Throughout this year, all food establishments including restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, mobile food trucks, and mobile peddlers will be graded solely on a routine inspection. During 2018, public grade posting is not required but in 2019, it will be mandatory for establishments to place their grade placards in a visible area in the establishment.

“Any food operator who cares about the health and safety of their guests will have no problem adapting to this new system,” said Stelio Kalkounos, Five O’Clock Steakhouse managing partner.

When Kalkounos first learned about the changes, he required his staff to undergo free additional training offered by the city.

“I had a goal for my kitchen,” he said. “We worked together to make sure we did everything we could to achieve a perfect score.”

Although the Health Department usually inspects restaurants without warning, Kalkounos said the city likely chose Five O’Clock Steakhouse as the new system’s launchpad because it had recently passed its 2017 inspection in November.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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