Restaurant patrons are often willing to overlook certain issues with their dining experience. Long waits, blemished silverware, and even rude service can be absolved if the rest of the meal shines. But there's one thing that diners will never forgive or forget: signs of vermin in the establishment.
Rodents, cockroaches, flies, and other pests will drive your customers out the door and onto social media accounts and review sites. Even worse, you'll likely be closed down if a health inspector finds a hint of an infestation, further tarnishing your reputation. Proper pest cleanup is essential to keeping these nightmarish scenarios from happening in the first place.
But Every Restaurant Has Pests, Right?
Wrong! There is no acceptable amount of vermin in a food facility. This rule applies to the entire establishment, including the kitchen, dining room, bathrooms, employee lockers, and trash storage areas. Keeping a restaurant rodent-free is no easy task, though. As Chef magazine explains, restaurants provide ideal conditions for pests: They're warm. There's plenty to eat. And most importantly, there are many places to hide. Restaurants in newer buildings have a slight advantage in the last respect, as older structures generally have more nooks and crannies to harbor vermin.
Haven't You Seen Ratatouille? Mice Are Misunderstood
Think again. Mice and rats are dangerous pests. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) names 11 diseases transmitted directly by rodents through their saliva, urine, feces, and fur. The list includes dangerous diseases like leptospirosis, hantavirus, and salmonellosis.
Flies and cockroaches are significantly less cute—which probably explains why they don't have a Disney mascot—and they are just as bad as rodents. The World Health Organization notes that flies can transfer cholera, trachoma, and even certain skin diseases when they land on food. Roaches carry organisms that cause similar diseases, many of which can make patrons seriously ill.
Should I Just Shut My Restaurant Down?
While rodents and bugs are a serious concern, you don't need to close up shop for good. Vermin can be eradicated if you follow thorough pest cleanup protocol. For mice and rats, the CDC recommends plugging up any holes, trapping existing animals, and airing out the space for 30 minutes before cleaning. The agency stresses that you should not sweep or vacuum the space, as this will stir up airborne particles. Instead, spray the area with disinfectant or a diluted bleach solution, allow it to soak, and then pick up droppings and nesting materials with paper towels or disposable wipes. Finally, wash the floor and scrub surfaces with a disinfectant or bleach solution. When you're finished, all cleaning supplies, including protective gloves, should be thrown away.
The best way to get rid of pests is preventing an infestation from taking hold in the first place. Food Service Warehouse lists several strategies to keep vermin at bay, including
- Storing food in airtight containers
- Keeping containers off the ground
- Moving dumpsters away from the building
- Following a strict cleaning regime that focuses on pest hot spots like booth cushions, trash receptacles, and drain covers
For more information on cleaning tools that can help you win the war on pests, click here.
Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.