Restaurant bars are often home to fermented alcohol, fruit, syrup and soda—all of which attract pests

Pests are thirsty.

With summer in full swing, it’s likely that your restaurant bar is as well. More and more establishments are embracing the craft beer and cocktail trend, but while the crowd moves in, it’s possible pests could join them.

Restaurant bars are often home to fermented alcohol, fruit, syrup and soda—all of which attract pests. Combine that with pungent food odors, and you’ve created the perfect happy hour for these unwanted vermin. Plus, standing water, patio drains or spills provide a perfect breeding ground for them to multiply.

Beyond a nuisance, a pest occurrence can create a health crisis in your restaurant. Flies, cockroaches and rodents can transmit pathogens and allergens that can make people sick, so it’s imperative that you’re prepared to handle any type of pest situation at hand—or else, your reputation and bottom line are at risk.

This is where an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan comes into play. IPM is the most effective and environmentally-responsible approach to pest control because it focuses on eliminating the conditions that attract pests through proactive sanitation and restaurant maintenance, reducing the need for remedial chemical treatments. Involving your employees in this process is critical to its success.

Here’s what you should know about the main intruders crashing your party:


As implied by their name, fruit flies most commonly feed on fruit and other sugary substances, including the fermenting sugars present in alcoholic beverages. In bars and restaurants, fruit flies are frequently found around the beer and soda dispensers. They breed in moist areas that support accumulation of organic matter such as dirty drain lines, poorly cleaned garbage disposals and garbage cans, recycle containers or other places where “slime” of organic debris collects.

Once fruit flies begin reproducing indoors, females can lay about 500 eggs and the eggs will hatch in as little as 24 hours after being deposited, making this pest difficult to control once they’ve settled in.


Cockroaches are excellent at hiding in dark cracks behind appliances, as well as under refrigerators and in crevices of shelves. They are capable of flattening themselves in order to fit into spaces between floorboards and walls. Additionally, buildup in the sink drain can be a paradise for moisture-loving cockroaches.

When you spot one crawling across the floor during the day, it can be a sign that there may be many more hiding behind the scenes. If cockroaches reach the bar area, they can contaminate your beverages and spread diseases to your patrons such as E. coli and Salmonella.


Rodents can sneak into your establishment through openings as small as a dime, or they can hitch a ride inside beverage deliveries. Once inside, it’s common to spot them near dirty glasses in the sink, open bottles of alcohol in the speed rail or full trash receptacles, as they are attracted to moisture.

In rodent hot spots, look for capsule-like pellet droppings and chew marks on packages. Another sign of rodent activity is grease or rub marks along floor boards and walls – this is from their fur rubbing against the material as they scurry past.

Prevention Tips

IPM is an ongoing process, and it emphasizes a partnership between your pest management provider and your team. Restaurant staff should focus their efforts on proactive sanitation and maintenance of the restaurant, so take extra steps to ensure your bar is also clean for guests to enjoy.

Clean up spills immediately—The same libations that attract guests can attract pests, especially when spills occur. It’s important to quickly clean up any liquid from the floor. Otherwise, the spill can create odors and a sticky residue that attracts pests to the scene.

Deep clean—At the end of every shift, thoroughly wipe down all countertops and chairs in the bar area, and remove any residue of the prior dining hours. Also, clean out the drain each day to help remove leftover debris from building up and attracting pests.

Keep equipment clean—Make sure to thoroughly clean all beverage appliances. Equipment such as floor mats, liquid dispensers and speed rails have cracks and crevices where liquid can easily collect. Also, don’t forget to check the areas underneath equipment where condensation and debris can accumulate. 

Sweep, mop and vacuum floors—Use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter to remove dust and debris from small cracks and crevices where cockroaches hide. This pest isn’t picky about meals and can even feed on dust. 

Sanitize trash bins—Consider using an organic cleaning solution to sanitize your trash bins and don’t forget to look around the area for any leakage that may collect and attract pests. Another helpful practice is to keep trash bins sealed, when possible.

Inspect beverage shipments—Pests can enter your establishment within the boxes your beverage items are delivered in. Use a UV black light to inspect for rodent urine on shipments and in delivery trucks and loading areas. Propping a door open for a delivery is another welcome invitation for pests, so ensure doors remain closed whenever possible.

Report pest sightings—Guests have a zero tolerance for visible pest presence in restaurant and bar establishments. Express to your employees the urgency of reporting pests immediately to remediate a problem before it becomes an infestation affecting your bottom line.

At the end of the day, pests should never receive an invite to your party, so establishing a strong IPM plan, and an even stronger team, will ensure that guests stay hoppy, without pests getting happy.

Expert Takes, Feature