During the hot, summer months, going out and enjoying a nice meal with friends and family can be a relaxing experience. Just as guests pour into your restaurant to escape the blazing heat, other undesirable visitors, such as pests, do the same. Unfortunately for you, the risks pests present can be detrimental. From risking the health and well-being of your guests to the possibility of being shut down by health department or food safety regulators (along with the unfavorable reputation damage brought by both), ensuring your establishment is well prepared for the pests that summer brings is vitally important.
Pest infestation can create a health crisis in your restaurant. Rodents frequently defecate and urinate, spreading many diseases in the process. Cockroaches are more than an eerie aesthetic in your restaurant, as they are capable of spreading disease causing agents such as Salmonella bacteria.
Not only can pests significantly affect the health of your guests, but having one of your guests spot a rodent or cockroach during their visit can quickly damage the reputation of your business. With review apps and websites increasing in popularity, word can quickly spread about your guest’s unfortunate pest run-in experience. Pest presence also will drive down scores on essential audits and examinations. A restaurant shut down due to a summertime pest infestation could be devastating, and it could take a significant amount of time to get back on your feet.
Preparing your restaurant for summer month pests will help your restaurant thrive through the season. These five areas of your restaurant can be a hotspot for pests, but with proper preparation, summertime pests will have to find another place to vacation.
The kitchen is where the magic happens. As both the primary food storage area and the site of all food prep surfaces/utensils, this area of your restaurant should have the strictest sanitation regimen and health hazard monitoring criteria. The pantry, storage room and dish-washing station are other important areas to monitor and keep tidy. Leaving dirty dishes in the sink overnight or open boxes of food unattended can attract rodents and other insects. Without daily sanitation practices, buildup in the sink drain can be a paradise for moisture-loving pests such as cockroaches and flies. Simple sanitation procedures like cleaning out the drain each day will help remove leftover food from building up and attracting these pests.
The bathroom is another one of the most important places to prep for pests. Cockroaches thrive in dark, damp places such as the bathroom drains. Bathrooms typically provide them exactly what they are looking for, humid, light-free areas. Nothing can unnerve a guest quite like seeing a roach upon entering the restaurant bathroom. Sanitizing, wiping down the sink and toilet areas, and routinely cleaning floor drains will help reduce cockroach attraction. Bathroom trash receptacles should also be emptied, and floors should be mopped daily.
The exterior areas of your restaurant are just as important as the inside. With a cool breeze and shade, guests always enjoy eating in a nice, well-monitored patio. But, with outdoor eating comes unwanted outdoor guests. Pigeons, squirrels and ants are just a few of the pests that will quickly pick up on the presence of food nearby. Swiftly clearing tables and cleaning up food debris or spills after guests leave will help eliminate the amount of leftover food available for critters. Cleaning and sanitizing exterior furniture and the patio floor will also prevent pests from keeping company with your guests.
The lobby and dining rooms are the most visible areas of your restaurant to guests—all the more reason to keep them pest-free. With heavy traffic from wait staff and guests, keeping the floor constantly vacuumed and/or mopped is vitally important. Cleaning liquid spills thoroughly and immediately sweeping up food crumbs will help prevent rodents and insects from finding a free meal. Another less-thought-of area of your restaurant that needs regular cleaning is the ceiling. Spiders and insects can make subtle homes far above eyesight. Keeping a duster handy to remove unsightly webs (or the insects caught in them) will keep them out of sight of your guests.
The trash dumpsters or garbage compactor are an especially challenging area in terms of reducing pest attractions. From raccoons (or other wildlife pests) to flies, dumpsters present easy access for these pests, especially if not consistently monitored. The lid to your dumpster should always be closed, and a strict emptying schedule should be implemented to ensure over-filling never happens. When too much trash is crammed into a dumpster, it becomes a free-for-all for flies. A good standard for emptying is once to twice weekly. When trash bags rip on the way out back or some garbage doesn’t quite make it into the dumpster, cleaning up the spill immediately will help avoid pests from quickly feasting on the leftovers. There should also be a regular rotation of the dumpster or compactor itself to allow for deep cleaning (this should be arranged with your waste management provider).
The summer months bring fun and adventure for everyone, which includes more frequent dining out experiences. So, the spring months are a great time for restaurant owners to contact their pest management providers and establish or refresh their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan for their restaurant 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 chemical treatments.
From inside your restaurant to exterior dining and waste management areas, inspecting and monitoring all areas of your business for pests will help your restaurant thrive.