COVID-19 has been brutal on restaurants but, luckily, those who made it through are beginning to allow in-person dining again. This is an excellent time to review some best practices for restaurant cleaning to provide a safe, sanitary environment for guests and ensure repeat visits.
Foodborne Illness is Restaurant Enemy #1
A food-related outbreak of diseases like E. coli and norovirus can be a disaster for a restaurant. Consider Chipotle, hit with a $25 million fine after instances of E. coli, norovirus, and salmonella outbreaks in 2014. Proper and frequent handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness. As we’ve all learned in the COVID era, 20 seconds with soap and warm water is enough. Other things to watch for are sick staff members, poor food storage practices, and improperly cleaned workstations. Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution can clean and disinfect in one step, kills E. coli in two minutes and norovirus in four, and is safe for food-touch areas.
Know the Health Department’s Guidelines
Skipping on these out of ignorance or carelessness can mean temporary closures or having to display a low grade somewhere in your establishment. Both will cost you money. These guidelines were devised to make sure restaurants are providing clean, safe environments. Use them to guide you as you develop a cleaning plan for your business.
Keep the Critters at Bay
Another thing that can destroy a restaurant’s reputation is a guest seeing a roach during a visit. Or, worse yet, finding one in their food. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to make your restaurant as inhospitable as possible to pests. This means storing food properly in airtight containers, making sure food residue is cleaned up at workstations and in coolers, and taking trash bags out to the dumpster several times a day. Signs that you might have a pest problem are chewed containers, rodent droppings, and flies in the food prep area.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
It does no good to have the kitchen staff following best practices for cleaning if the servers are going to contaminate the food before it reaches the guest and vice versa. Make sure everyone on your team knows the guidelines for proper hygiene, food safety, and general cleanliness. Stick to your standards and make them a habit.
Think About Customer Perception
Following the Health Department guidelines will ensure your business is safe and sanitary, but you can really give your restaurant’s dining experience a boost by putting yourself in the guest’s shoes. Think about the little details that can make or break a night out. Does your dining area seem welcoming? How do the floors look? Are the salt and pepper shakers full? What about the toilet paper in the restrooms? Walk through your entire establishment to try to find things you’ve overlooked. You could also ask a friend to come in and eat and be as critical as possible, writing down everything they see in a notebook. Sometimes a set of fresh eyes helps. The goal is the best customer experience possible and using these tips as a starting point will get your restaurant there in no time.
Restaurants have both high-traffic and specialized areas that require a variety of cleaning products. Dining areas, lobbies, restrooms, and kitchens all have special needs that we must attend to. What works great for cleaning your kitchen’s air vents is totally inappropriate for guests’ tables. Here is a list of important considerations to think about when purchasing cleaning products for your restaurant.
Know the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting
This has taken on a special importance over the last couple of years. Cleaning refers to the process of removing dirt and other impurities from a surface. On the other hand, disinfecting actually kills the viruses and bacteria in an area. Both are necessary to help reduce the spread of pathogens.
What Jobs Can Each Product Handle?
Knowing the versatility of what you’re purchasing can help you cut down costs in the long run. A good all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant is always a good investment. However, such products probably won’t be powerful enough to handle the grease that can accumulate in the kitchen. Read each product label closely and make the best decision for your specific restaurant.
How Much Should I Buy?
This is a bit of a balancing act. You’ll have to consider how often you’ll be using each product and how much you’ll need before the next order. You should also think about how much space you have for storage and how much each product will take up. For example, if you use tablets to clean your deep fryer, you can probably go ahead and buy in bulk to save cost as they don’t have much of a footprint.
How Safe Are These Products?
Many cleaning products are full of harsh and toxic chemicals like bleach, chlorine, or phosphates. Furthermore, even milder products aren’t necessarily safe for food-touch surfaces. Again, read the label carefully and think about where this chemical will be used and how often.
How Do These Products Affect the Environment?
If ecological responsibility is important to your business and clientele, there are environmentally friendly products available. Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution is botanically derived and free of the harsh chemicals mentioned above. It’s also an excellent all-purpose cleaner, handling both cleaning and disinfecting, and is safe for food-touch surfaces.
For all the difficulties coronavirus has caused, restaurateurs have been able to take comfort in the fact that food is an inhospitable environment for the virus. This allowed many restaurants to stay afloat by turning to take-out and online food deliveries. Fortunately, though, state restrictions are lifting all over the country and dining areas are filling back up. However, these customers – along with servers and other staff – want to know that ownership is doing everything they can to keep them safe. Here are some tips to keep your staff happy and your customers coming back for a return visit.
It Starts with Effective Supplies
List-N is a group of products that the EPA expects to kill all strains and variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used according to the label directions. Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution is included on List-N at features a 55-second kill time against the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19). Furthermore, it’s no-rinse-required, even on food contact surfaces, making it an excellent choice for kitchens and dining areas. Some other supplies to you’ll always want to have on hand are bottles of hand sanitizer and soap, stainless steel cleaner, bleach, paper towels, and plenty of food prep gloves.
Take Care of the Front-of-House
The lobby, cash registers, and main counters get the most frequent outside traffic in a restaurant. Therefore, it’s the area that’s most likely to become contaminated. Think about installing a plexiglass shield around the register as that area often has faces in close proximity. Also, make sure to keep two large bottles of hand sanitizer nearby, one for guests and one for employees. Additionally, make sure you’re frequently disinfecting the entire front door, paying extra attention to handles, push plates, and the edges. Disinfect counters, phones, and cash registers at least three times per day and do the same with high-touch areas in the restrooms.
Put the Cellphones Away
Cellphones are among the germiest objects we come in contact with throughout the day. Touching a phone and then a workstation, table, silverware, etc. is a very easy way to spread pathogens around your establishment, resulting in sick employees and sick customers. Make sure everyone working a shift knows to leave their cellphone alone unless it’s absolutely essential. The same goes for other high-touch personal objects like wallets and car keys.
Check CDC Guidelines
Even taking solid precautions such as these can’t guarantee your business will be safe from the coronavirus. Have a plan in place in the event of an outbreak. The CDC offers plenty of help concerning plans for contact-tracing so check their site often to make sure you’re keeping abreast of the latest information. And if you’re experiencing symptoms, be sure to self-isolate and contact your doctor.