If you’ve ever sat down at a restaurant table and felt stickiness, then chances are you were getting in touch with a rich pool of bacteria sitting on top of the surface. It’s a remarkably tactile kind of lurgie. You can actually feel it on the linoleum, wood or plastic surface of a table, on the chair and its arm rests and on the plastic sleeves of a menu. It’s sticky in an old gummy kind of way, like the dried treacle of a thousand dirty hands. Who knows where those hands have been?
If you manage a restaurant, there are obvious things that you can control and train your staff to take care of, Hygiene is a major one. Routines and protocols can be put in place and enforced on how to handle food stuff, bathroom etiquette, restaurant set up and cleaning. But if you take into account that your customers are just as if not more likely to be bringing germs into your restaurant, you need to account for what they touch too. It’s all very well training your staff to practice proper hygiene protocols – washing hands, using latex gloves, cleaning kitchen surfaces etc – but if your menus, tables, salt, pepper and condiment bottles are crawling with bacteria, you’re going to make your customers sick. There is NOTHING that ruins a restaurant’s business like rumours of consistent food poisoning.
The solution is simple. Ensure that tables get a proper clean with a chemical cleaner that can cut through that old, sticky, invisible dirt. If not every day then every few days, salt and pepper shakers, ketchup and mustard bottles and jars and anything else a customer might have to touch, must get wiped down. While it depends on how much your menu changes or stays the same, if you can, use roving chalkboard menus instead of printed plastic sheets. If you must use the latter, ensure they too get cleaned even if it feels awkward.
Of course, your ambience and feel is important, but while nobody wants to have a meal in a place that looks as sterile as a laboratory, the onus is on you to make sure every effort is made to make your restaurant as hygienic as possible.