What A 'Grade Pending' Sign Indicates At NYC Restaurants

Walking down any street in New York City, you'll notice signs with letter grades from A to C in restaurant windows. If you aren't familiar with dining in this city, the grades denote the score given as a result of a health and safety inspection from the New York City Department of Health. These are routine inspections for an estimated 24,000 restaurants across the city's five boroughs to check for food safety compliance. But sometimes, you'll see a "grade pending" sign in an eatery's window.

What does a "grade pending" sign indicate? During the inspection, points are given for violations like food not being stored at the proper temperature or utensils that aren't sanitized correctly. When a restaurant is found to have one of these health violations, it receives points that are then totaled at the end of the inspection. When a restaurant receives 14 points or more during an inspection and reinspection, the "grade pending" sign can be placed in the window instead of the corresponding letter grade while it waits for a hearing to determine the final results, per the NYC Department of Health website.

Warnings of grade pending signs

Should you skip a meal at a restaurant with a "grade pending" sign? That's really up to you. Many different violations can cause an eating establishment to receive points from how they serve food to the cleanliness of the kitchen. For example, a restaurant could still earn an A even with up to 13 points for sanitary-related violations according to the guidelines — so even an A doesn't mean the restaurant is the cleanest spot to eat a meal. To be clear, if an eatery has a severe situation — like a full-blown rat infestation — then it would be shut down because the DOH doesn't give out D or F grades.

If you are still unsure if you should try a certain spot, the New York City Department of Health has created an interactive map where you can search for a restaurant's grade and a list of its violations to help make your decision. You can search for a specific spot by name, or look for places in a certain borough by zip code. When you locate the restaurant on the map, simply click on its permit number to see full details of any violations and when the incidents were recorded. Luckily, the city is filled with countless top-rated restaurants so you shouldn't have a difficult time finding another place to satisfy your appetite.