Friday, November 19, 2010

Politics and Dining Out in Richardson

Restaurant Scores

The Richardson Coalition is a political action committee (PAC) perhaps best known for its infamous mailer before the 2009 City Council elections, which many thought was misleading and/or unfair. The PAC is now endorsing restaurants as well as candidates.

A recent PAC editorial brags that "Richardson has attracted almost 100 new restaurants in the last three years. ... We encourage you try a number of local restaurants. You may be pleasantly surprised at the variety, high quality of food, and service." The PAC promotes a program, "Dine Smart, Dine Local," by the Richardson Chamber of Commerce to encourage patronizing Richardson restaurants.

After the jump, what about inspection scores by the Richardson Health Department?

Variety, service and venue are all well and good, but a non-negotiable demand I have in rating restaurants is public health. Boosterism by the Richardson Coalition PAC and the Chamber of Commerce should be balanced by an equal emphasis by the City of Richardson on achieving high inspection scores by the Health Department. As it is, diners have to search out inspection scores buried in the city's website, if they are even aware that the scores exist at all. I'd like to see restaurants prominently display their most recent inspection score where patrons can see it before walking in the door.

That brings us back to the Richardson Coalition PAC's restaurant endorsements. The PAC promotes five Richardson restaurants by name. As a public service, here are those restaurants' most recent inspection scores by the Richardson Health Department.

  • The String Bean, 1310 W Campbell Rd: 96 on 10/27/10
  • Frankie's Mexican Cuisine, 2701 Custer Pkwy: 92 on 9/22/10
  • Braum's, 1260 W Campbell Rd: 91 on 2/22/10
  • Panera Bread, 730 E Campbell Rd: 90 on 7/26/10
  • Twisted Root Burger Co., 730 E Campbell Rd: 97 on 10/14/10

According to the Richardson Health Department, "Scores are based on a scale of zero to 100. A score of 90 to 100 is excellent; 80 to 89 is good; 70 to 79 is acceptable; and 60 to 69 is marginal. A score below 60 may be grounds for the closing of an establishment or other enforcement action."

All five restaurants endorsed by the Richardson Coalition PAC received "excellent" inspection scores by the Health Department. Bravo. Maybe they should consider voluntarily displaying those scores in their front windows. It's something to be proud of. And it's something that, surely, diners other than me must care about.

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