Milwaukee restaurants will soon receive a letter grade after their health inspections that will be visible to all customers.
It’s something one alderman wanted to put in place for years, but it wasn't until a group of UW-Milwaukee students put their heads together that the idea became a reality.
The students didn't just collaborate with city officials, they actually created the algorithm to make the grading system work.
Every restaurant in Milwaukee will be required to display its grade starting next year.
A clean restaurant is something Sobelmans Pub 'N Grill has prided itself on for 20 years, so owners there are glad to see this new grading system in Milwaukee.
"I think it’s wonderful, it should have been done a long time ago," said Linda Sobelman. "People want to know where they’re eating at and if everything is up to the standards of being clean."
And soon, people in Milwaukee will know that as soon as they walk in the door. Starting in 2019, it will be mandatory for restaurants to display their letter grade at the front of the restaurant.
"Having a system like this certainly brings more transparency to it," said Andrew Lochowicz, a recent UWM grad in the Executive MBA program who worked on this project.
He and three other students figured out how to assign numeric value to health inspector reports, to make a fair grading system for all restaurants.
A score of 79-100 will earn the restaurant an "A", from 60-78 a "B" and below 60 is a "C".
Several cities across the U.S. and the world have grading systems in place. Milwaukee representatives traveled to Toronto, Canada to model their program.
"Seeing all that work that we put in to it it actually was realized, it was actually implemented into the community has been really rewarding," said Lochowicz. "Especially knowing that it helps mitigate the risk of food borne illness outbreaks."
Adam Wickersham, the director of the Executive MBA program at UWM's Lubar School of Business says the city didn't have the time or staff to move forward with this project, and his students were able to fill that gap. They worked for 10 months to establish the system.
"I think most people assume someone at the city or health department had just done it and this is just one more way that UWM is able to do a lot of the good work that they're able to do," said Wickersham.
He says this project is just one example of what students in the Executive MBA program help with. Each year they select a handful of non-profits or small businesses who may not otherwise have the ability to accomplish strategic goals.
They are always looking for new projects to take on. Interested organizations can email firstname.lastname@example.org.