Restaurant ratings now posted on site

Now you can use your computer to find out which restaurant kitchens in Georgia are clean and which aren't.

Results of the latest state inspection reports are being posted in a searchable database through the Georgia Department of Community Health's Web site.

The health department launched the online tool Thursday after five years of development.

The $600,000 system allows all 159 county health departments to have restaurant reports on one central site, said Joye Burton, the health department's media relations manager.

"The ability to review the entire inspection report allows the consumer to make an educated decision when visiting a particular establishment," Burton wrote in an e-mail.

Diners can see not only restaurants' scores on the four-letter scale but also detailed reports of each inspection.

Of more than 600 Richmond County restaurants displayed, there are 489 A's, 117 B's, six C's and one U, the lowest score.

Daniel Grant, the food and beverage manager of The Partridge Inn Verandah Grille, said that although he takes pride in his establishment, he is working to bring up the U score his restaurant received in July.

"These are all issues that need to be addressed," Grant said. "We've just strayed away a little bit in our focus, and obviously we want to bring the good times back to Augusta."

Grant said that means storing equipment correctly and maintaining correct food temperatures and cooling techniques -- all violations that earned his restaurant a score of 66.

"It's an overhaul in training," he said.

Bryan Mitchell, the owner of the event facility The City Club, said inspections are tricky, however. Although The City Club received a near-perfect score of 99 in its May inspection, he said one mistake can hurt the image of an establishment.

"All those inspection reports, it's almost comical," Mitchell said. "A lot of times they catch you at the wrong time.

"When you just look at the score, you have to dig deeper into the report and see what it actually is for.

"Things they take a lot of points off for may be seemingly trivial, and they don't take off enough in other things."

As the owner of one of Richmond County's restaurants with an A score, Felton Mitchell, of Silla Café on Broad Street, said each point off an inspection counts.

"It's really important that people know that our customers' well-being is more important to us than making a profit," he said."

See for yourself

To search inspection records go to the health department's site at www.georgiaeh.us. Click on the Food Service Inspections link, and search by county.

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