Americans love to eat out. We average 4.5 times a week nationally, according to Zagat, and that doesn’t even include breakfast! But be warned, whether it’s four-star, fast-casual or something in between, diners can potentially walk away with more than a meal. Germs and other pathogens often hide in plain sight, even in the cleanest-looking space. And guests might not even walk in if your front-of-house looks less that sparkling. Proper restaurant dining room cleaning will keep the public, and profits, healthy.
Eat With Your Eyes
A spotless entryway and dining area telegraphs a restaurant’s quality. Employees should make sure the parking lot and front windows sparkle and the host stand looks neat and organized. Turn on all lights and open drapes or blinds before morning cleaning for a clear view of the job at hand. Don’t forget to look up. Air vents, ceiling tiles, lights and fans collect dust quickly. Look down as dust too, hangs out on table bases and chair legs. Pull booths away from walls to clean the sides and back. Take off any removable seats to get at crumbs and grime.
Would You Like Germs With That?
People usually think of the kitchen and restroom when it comes to the germiest places in a restaurant, but the front of house harbors a surprising number of pathogens. Dr. Charles Gerba—aka Dr. Germ—found that the average pepper shaker is coated with 11,000 bacteria. But that wasn’t even the worst offender. Menus, particularly the plastic-coated ones, hold that title. It makes sense. Everyone, the host, guest and wait staff, touches them and viruses and bacteria thrive on hard surfaces.
The ice machine is another place pathogens like to gather. If not emptied and cleaned regularly a pink mold will grow and eventually develop into a thick slime that will alter the smell and taste of the ice.
Mise en Place
Successful cooking needs the right ingredients and tools in place; successful cleaning requires nothing less. Make sure staff has access to the appropriate equipment for restaurant dining room cleaning. If cleaning cloths or rags are part of that equation you are probably making the problem worse. A study sampled 23 dishcloths from 10 different restaurants and researchers found coliform bacteria on 89.2% of them. Fifty four percent held E.coli. Tables wiped with these rags were covered with 45 times more bacteria after cleaning then before. Folding a microfiber towel into quadrants and using a fresh side each time or using a squeegee system will cut down on cross contamination.
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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.