King County’s Restaurant Inspection Grades, which is based upon the average of red-card violations in the past four inspections

I’m exploring the Python stack for data analysis and machine learning.

I know I’m late to the party, but have only recently discovered the impressive Jupyter Notebook (formerly IPython) data analysis platform and community. It makes “storytelling from data” easy. But doing so with ease requires fluency with a sometimes unintuitive yet very powerful syntax.

Today’s question: Which Seattle-area restaurants have been forced to close the most often by restaurant inspectors?

For this morning’s project, I headed on over to a local Starbucks, tapped into wifi, and downloaded the King County Restaurant Inspection dataset.

King County’s restaurant inspection policies are spelled out here, and violations generally fall into “red” (serious) or “blue” (non-serious) violations. Red violations can and often do result in forced temporary closure of the restaurant.

Now, for this SQL-guy, importing the data file into a database and doing a simple GROUP BY query would make this question easy to answer, but for my Python learning purposes, that’d be cheating. I want to learn a bit about data visualization and pattern recognition.

After a little bit of munging of the data, I came out with the list below, which shows restaurant name and the total distinct closure-worthy moments. Surprising to me that some were such repeat offenders. Really, Anjappar Chettinad? Inspectors forced closure five separate times?

From January 2006 until March 2018, there have been 181 distinct restaurant closures in the Seattle area by inspection.

Some, like Anjappar Chettinad Indian Restaurant, King Buffet and 663 Bistro, have been closed multiple times. You can see that the list of inspection-forced-closures is heavily weighted toward international (i.e., Indian, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Mexican) restaurants, but also includes a few taverns, hot dog street vendors, delis and coffee shops.

Here’s a scatter plot of where these closures have taken place (as you can see, I haven’t yet gotten geo heatmaps sorted out yet — I’ll be exploring folium or other geo-plotters in the future.) But it seems to show that the major areas are South Lake Union and Queen Anne:

Pace of Closures by Year

Let’s see how closures have paced by year (2018 is partial, through mid-March 2018):

Interesting — what’s going on here? Why was 2007–2010 a down-period, particularly 2010? Was that a particularly careful, healthy year? That seems unlikely. Possible explainers: economic effects reducing inspections? Measurements not recorded in the same format? Or was something else going on?

Looking at total inspections by year, we can clearly see that it’s not because of cutbacks in inspections. Here are the total unique inspections (i.e., unique restaurant/date pairs) by year, through mid-March 2018:

So there’s a steady increase in inspections from year to year. Don’t know exactly why 2010 was such a closure-light year, or why 2008–2010 trended down; my current hypothesis is that there was a policy change, or perhaps less aggressive inspections, that made these more lenient.

Distribution of Grades

Just how bad is it, comparatively speaking, when you see a “Needs Improvement”, or even an “Okay” sign? You may have anecdotally noticed that it’s pretty rare when you glance at the door and see one of these two grades. Here’s a histogram — one per inspector visit — and the resultant grades assigned, since 2006 (1=Excellent, 2=Great, 3=Okay, 4=Needs Improvement.)

What I take away from the above is that “Okay” and “Needs Improvement” are real outliers.

For more info, you can check out the King County Restaurant Inspection lookup system here: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/environmental-health/food-safety/inspection-system/search.aspx#/

https://gist.github.com/stevemurch/ccac0123600cefdc7314d0524a449f8b.js

Restaurants that have an “Okay” Grade as of March 28 2018:

Restaurant name, total number of red-cards shown below.

More than one red card can and often is handed out per visit — so the number of actual closures is significantly less than the numbers below:

663 BISTRO 57
ANJAPPAR CHETTINAD INDIAN RESTAURANT 53
KING BUFFET 49
SPICED TRULY CHINESE CUISINE 32
ROYAL INDIA 30
UDUPI CAFE 24
SICHUANESE CUISINE 23
MIDORI TERIYAKI 22
OH! INDIA 21
CURBSIDE (KC225) 20
BIG BAZAAR 20
CAFE PHO II, INC. 17
GOLDEN DAISY RESTAURANT 17
ICHIRO TERIYAKI 17
BLUE FIN & SEAFOOD 17
GREEN LEAF VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT 16
BEBAS & AMIGOS 16
TOP GUN OF BELLEVUE 16
YU SHAN 15
BENTO BOX, THE 14
MACKY’S DIM SUM 14
KING’S CHINESE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT 13
HANABI SUSHI RESTAURANT 13
YOKO 3 13
SAIGON DELI 13
TERIYAKI BISTRO 13
FORTUNE GARDEN RESTAURANT 12
J B GARDEN 12
HYDERABAD HOUSE 12
HANAHREUM MART 11
HARBOR CITY RESTAURANT 11
YUMMY PHO 11
MAYURI FOODS & VIDEO 11
KABAB PALACE 10
SEADLE HOUSE 10
SILVER SPOON THAI RESTAURANT 10
SAFFRON SPICE 10
CAFE PHO 10
MEDITERRANEAN MIX 9
KUNG HO GOURMET CHINESE RESTAURANT 9
LA PINA/TRES HERMANOS 9
SEATTLE DELI 9
HONG KONG BISTRO 9
ASIA BBQ & FAST FOOD 9
SEOUL TOFU HOUSE 2 9
CEDARS BROOKLYN DELI 9
HUNAN CHINESE KITCHEN 8
MAHARAJA CUSINE OF INDIA 8
IKIIKI 8
TOULOUSE PETIT KITCHEN & LOUNGE 8
SKILLET STREET FOOD, LLC 8
FEAST 8
SUNNY TERIYAKI 8
MAZATLAN RESTAURANT 8
RANCHO BRAVO TACOS #1 8
LOTUS ASIAN KITCHEN & LOUNGE 8
TAQUERIA GUADALAJARA 8
PALACE KOREAN GRILL 8
LOCAL PHO 7
PARKSIDE DELI & SUNDRIES 7
MIRAK RESTAURANT 7
COUNTRY SIDE CAFE 6
FAMOUS RANDY 6
MUNCH BOSS (KC465) 6
IMPERIAL GARDEN & HAPPY TUMMY 6
13 COINS 6
THAI ON 1ST 6
THAI CHEF 6
SMALL FRYE’S 6
PIONEER GRILL@VARAMINI COMMISSARY 6
MUSTARD SEED CAFE 5
PHO TAI 5
CHU MINH TOFU & VEGETARIAN DELI 5
GRILL CITY 5
NORTHWEST CATERING #9 5
LA RIVIERA MAYA #2 4
GOURMET DOG JAPON 4
JEMIL’S BIG EASY 4
RAM RESTAURANT & BREWERY 4
PEOPLE’S BURGER@VARAMINI COMMISSARY 4
ROMIO’S PIZZA & PASTA 4
TAQUERIA EL ASADERO 4
DONA QUEEN DONUT & DELI 4
DRAGONFISH ASIAN CAFE 4
SAM’S NOODLE HOUSE 4
SAMURAI NOODLE 4
LA PLAYA MEXICAN RESTAURANT 4
HOMEGROWN SUSTAINABLE SANDWICH SHOP-KIOSK 3
HALLAVA FALAFEL LLC 3
N W HASIMO FAST FOOD AND DELI 3
STOPWATCH ESPRESSO 3
MANCHU WOK AT SEA-TAC 3
RACHA NOODLES & THAI CUISINE 3
SUBWAY #25524-O 3
EL CAMION 3
CHUCK E CHEESE’S 3
THAI CURRY SIMPLE 3
BIG BAWARCHI 3
AL’S GOURMET SAUSAGE #5 3
RAIN DOGS SODO, CART #2 3
LANPONI THAI RESTAURANT 3
PHO THU THUY 3
TAQUERIA EL CORRAL #1 2
BEST CORN #1 2
SUNSET FRIED CHICKEN 2
BOUMBA HOTDOG 2
GREAT WESTERN PACIFIC 2
MCDONALD’S SAMMAMISH #5523 2
YUMBIT (KC298) 2
DANTE’S INFERNO (1) 2
CAFE ZUM ZUM 2
MAIN ST GYROS 2
QDOBA #2618 2
HOW TO COOK A WOLF 2
OASIS TEA ZONE 2
Hung Long Market 2
I LOVE MY GFF 2
LUNCHBOX LABORATORY 2
CAFFE BEE 1
BLAZEN (KC547) 1
THAI 2 G0 1
THAI BISTRO RESTAURANT 1
CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL #2228 1
LT’S FAMOUS BBQ 1
QUARTER CHUTE CAFE 1
BISTRO BAFFI 1
OSTERIA DA PRIMO 1
PHI KAPPA SIGMA 1
NEEMA’S 1
BENEVOR, INC 1
BEEZNEEZ GOURMET SAUSAGE (KC287) 1
TOSHI’S TERIYAKI 1
TUKWILA DELI 1
ART MARBLE 21 1
VOXX COFFEE 1
ANGELO’S PIZZA & PASTA 1
7-ELEVEN STORE #2361–27283C 1
WORLD WRAPPS — REI 1
MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN 1
COWGIRLS ESPRESSO 1
CHURCH’S CHICKEN 1
GERALDINE’S COUNTER 1
RAM RESTAURANT & BIG HORN BREWERY 1
JUISALA 1
KFC #332 1
POTBELLY SANDWICH SHOP 1
KING OF PHO 1
SANDHU SHELL MINI-MART 1
Niko’s Teriyaki 1
HALLAVA FALAFEL 1
Genki Sushi 1
KIRKLAND AMERICAN LITTLE LEAGUE 1
PING’S FOOD MART 1
GARAM MASALA AND SPICES 1
CLASS ACT 1
FULL LIFE CARE 1
FREMONT HOT DOG 1
SUBWAY 1
LA RUSTICA 1
LA VITA E BELLA (KC222) 1
LADYBUG ESPRESSO 1
TACO GOL TAQUERIA 1
CROSSROADS CAFE 1
QDOBA MEXICAN EATS 1
COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT — STARBUCKS 1
COFFEE TIME 1
MARINEPOLIS SUSHILAND 1

Another question: What Seattle Zip Codes have had the most “type red” (serious) violations? I haven’t quite figured out how to display counts on a heatmap just yet, but it turns out the answer is 98109, which includes Queen Anne and South Lake Union:

Note that I haven’t yet divided by inspection frequency, that’s simply the nominal leader. It could certainly be because that’s where more restaurants are, or where more inspections have been scheduled. Will likely take a look at that in a future update.

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Author

Steve's career has included leadership and entrepreneurship in consumer apps, online travel, games, relational databases, consulting and telecommunications. Steve founded BigOven, the first recipe app for iPhone, now with more than 13 million downloads, which was purchased in 2018. Steve served as Chairman of Escapia Inc., the leading SaaS solution for the US vacation rental industry, now part of Expedia. Steve was co-founder, President, CEO and Chairman of VacationSpot, a pioneer in the online reservation of vacation rentals, bought by Expedia in January 2000. At Expedia, Steve was Vice President of Vacation Packages, leading the vacation package and destination services teams, helping to create two patents on the first-ever dynamic vacation packaging system on the Internet, which now represents billions in annual transactions for Expedia. Steve has keynoted on several occasions at the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA) and taught a course on the management of innovation at the University of Washington Graduate Business School in Seattle, Washington. Steve worked for Microsoft from 1991 to 1997 in a variety of senior marketing and executive positions, and led the creation of the internet games group, helping develop several products and patents related to online multiplayer gaming. He helped launch Microsoft Access and was involved in the acquisition of Fox Software by Microsoft in 1993. He's worked for IBM, Booz-Allen Hamilton and Bell Communications Research. Steve holds an MS in Computer Science from Stanford University in Symbolic and Heuristic Computation (AI), an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was named a George F. Baker Scholar (awarded to top 5% of graduating class), and a dual BS in Applied Mathematics / Computer Science and Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) with University Honors. Steve volunteers when time allows with Habitat for Humanity, University District Food Bank, YMCA Seattle, Technology Access Foundation (TAF) and SPEAK OUT Seattle, among other groups.

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