Cleaning Tips to Reopen Restaurants
Ready to go out to dinner again? After months of cooking, eating and cleaning up every meal at home, Americans are hungry to get out and visit their favorite restaurants. The restaurant industry, one of the business sectors hit hardest by stay at home orders to stop the spread of the coronavirus, is gearing up to welcome diners back.
It's uncertain when diners will feel confident enough to sit down and enjoy eating at their favorite spots. But when they do, restaurants--from fast food to fine dining and everything in between--will look and function differently than before.
Experts tell us to expect half empty dining rooms, outdoor accommodations and cleaning protocols kicked into the highest gear.
Restaurants: What was Lost
The National Restaurant Association predicted a banner year for 2020, projecting industry sales to hit $899 billion. Instead, stay at home orders hit the restaurant industry hard. Over eight million restaurant employees, or two out of three, have been laid off or furloughed since the beginning of the outbreak. Now the National Restaurant Association is predicting $240 billion in losses by the end of 2020.
The Association also sees pent-up desire for diners to come back. A survey conducted in April found that 83% of adults say they are not eating at restaurants as often as they like. That's good news for restaurant owners as they get ready to reopen.
The Road to Enticing Customers Back
Successful reopening will require building back customer confidence. The Food and Drug Administration has laid out Best Practices for Re-Opening Retail Food Establishments During the COVID-19 Pandemic to create a safer space for patrons and employees. Along with all of the important food safety steps need to be taken, the checklist also stresses the continuation of social distancing rules.
This may require re-configuring interior spaces to minimize face-to-face contact between workers, customers and visitors. Reservation systems can keep crowds predictable and manageable. Floor tape, Plexiglas partitions and clear signage can help enforce this rule. Restaurants should also explore outside seating options as many local jurisdictions are fast tracking approval for outdoor dining.
The National Restaurant Association also suggests 'making technology your friend,' and exploring contactless payment systems, automated ordering systems, mobile apps, website updates and more.
You can also take a note from Burger King and let humor soften the blow. Burger King Germany is handing out massive paper crowns that blocks other from your space while Burger King Italy is selling a 'social distancing whopper' with three times the normal amount of raw onions to keep people away.
Cleaning, Cleaning, Cleaning
Reopening your restaurant should start with a thorough deep clean and sanitizing protocol. The National Restaurant Association recommends focusing on high-contact areas but not overlooking seldom-touched surfaces as well. They also caution to avoid food contact surfaces when using disinfectants.
Prepare to keep enhanced cleaning protocols going once your restaurant is up and running again. This should include cleaning and sanitizing:
- Table condiments
- Digital ordering devices
- Check presenters
- Self-service areas
- Tabletops and counters
- Reusable menus
- Common touch areas
All this extra cleaning doesn't have to be burdensome. There are technologies that let workers speed through tabletop and touch point cleaning. Consider moving from rags to products the KaiFly system and SmartTowel.
The KaiFly combines microfiber, squeegee and chemical injection so workers can remove dirt and bio-pollutants from table and countertops quickly and easily. The product can also be used on vertical surfaces like a newly installed Plexiglas barrier.
For other touch points, Kaivac's numbered Smart Towel ensures that workers always clean with a fresh section of towel. This reduces the threat of cross-contamination.
Elevated Restroom Cleaning
Restroom maintenance has always been important but now it is more vital than ever. After all, restrooms can't be reconfigured to allow more space and you can't move them outdoors to reduce risks. Plus they're filled with touch points from the doorknobs to flushers and taps to soap and paper towel dispensers. And don't forget the toilet plume that dispenses germs through the air with each flush.
The only option is enhanced cleaning. How much more cleaning can you expect to do? McDonald's Corp is suggested servicing their restrooms every half hour.
Using a mop and bucket, however, will have a limited effect. Studies show that mops do a poor job of removing dirt but are pretty good at spreading soils, bacteria and other contaminants around. They're also tedious, heavy and slow to use.
Try a Kaivac No-Touch Cleaning system instead. These machines clean restrooms in one-third the time it takes to mop. No-touch means workers don't have to get on their hands and knees to wipe down dirty surfaces. And they're easy to use so every employee can learn to clean.
Successfully reopening restaurants is an important phase to our recovery. Let Kaivac help you do it safely.
Get detailed information about how Kaivac helps you clean better and faster:
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.