PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allegheny County is a step closer to getting report cards on the safety of its restaurants. The Health Department has okayed a plan for letter grades.

But that plan is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of most restaurant owners.

Matteo’s Restaurant is one of a string of new, hip eating places opening up in the city’s trendy Lawrenceville neighborhood.

A green sticker on their front door indicates the Health Department found the restaurant safe and sanitary. But soon they may issue a grade instead.

That’s a real concern for owner-chef Matt Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh: “Between a B and an A, you could be one point away and if you have a B up on you door..

KDKA’s Paul Martino: “It’s gonna hurt?”

Cavanaugh: “Right, exactly.”

He’s not alone. A parade of restaurant owners complained about the grading system in front of the Board of Health Wednesday. They say it’s not fair and the county’s health inspectors aren’t up to the job.

“This isn’t really going to work,” says Jeff Cohen, of the Smallman Deli. “We don’t have the inspectors, the training, the pay level. It’s way too confusing.”

Even so, the Board of Health okayed the grading system on a 6 to 1 vote. Restaurant owners say they’re goose isn’t cooked just yet.

“We don’t believe what they did today was right or legal. And we’re going to contest it at every level,” said Kevin Joyce, of The Carlton.

But don’t expect a report card on your favorite restaurant anytime soon. The Health Department still has to get the okay from Allegheny County Council and from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Then, there could also be a legal challenge.

Don’t look for those grades to come in until January of 2015 at the earliest.

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