The state Department of Health is rolling out a new rating system that will require restaurants to post their inspection marks near the front door.
This coming year, placards will be at every food establishment. Green means it has passed the health inspection, yellow means there are a few violations that need to be addressed, and red means it has been closed because it is a health risk.
There are 6,000 eateries on Oahu and all their health inspection reports are kept here in file drawers.
It's all public record, but not posted online or very accessible. But that's all about to change.
"Were going through a huge paradigm shift," said Peter Oshiro, environmental health director for the State Department of Health.
Not only will they be doing more frequent inspections and posting their results online, but cards will be posted in front of every business serving food, showing whether they've passed with flying colors, have room for improvement, or flat out failed.
"Everything from convenience stores, lunch wagons, five-star restaurants, drive-in places," Oshiro said.
Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery in Chinatown says bring it on.
"If you're up to par, you have nothing to hide," said Rowena Nakamitsu, Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery.
"It protects both sides. Protects us that were on our toes and the customers that before they come in, they know what to expect," Nakamitsu said.
Some say it will even help weed out the bad operations.
"I think it's a great idea. It would keep the ones unwanted away," said Carol Lahendy with Ronnie's Lunch Wagon. "There are a lot of unlicensed wagons that pull up here."
The Hawaii Restaurant Association also fully supports the initiative, but emphasizes the importance of the state inspectors holding up their part of the deal.
"For example, it would be bad if the restaurant was to get a lower rating and they didn't come back on Saturday because they don't work or Sunday because they don't work, or Monday because it's a holiday," Hawaii Restaurant Association Executive Director Roger Morey said.
The DOH says it is beefing up their program from 18 inspectors to 26 by the end of this year.
Before this program is implemented next spring, businesses have a lot of room for improvement.
Oshiro says most would have a yellow card posted on their storefront if this started today.
"On our routine inspections, currently, at about 60 to 70 percent of the time we will find a major or multiple major violations," Oshiro said.
To pay for the program, food service licensing fees are going to quadruple. Businesses are now paying $46 a year. Next year, they will be $200.
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