Summer months are some of the busiest for restaurants and diners with outdoor patios, rooftop bars and screened-in seating areas. But while business is booming, pests are making their way closer to these outdoor dining spaces. Unfortunately for you—and your guests—pests can be a nuisance to your business, result in poor reviews, and can even pose health and safety risks to employees and customers alike.
Nothing is worse than a guest spotting a rodent or finding a fly in their drink. In an industry where reviews and good inspections are of the utmost importance, your pest management program can make or break your business’s reputation—and your bottom line. An effective pest management program can help prevent a health crisis in your restaurant and keep guests happy all summer long.
An Integrated Pest Management program can help protect your restaurant from pests this season and prevent a pest infestation from invading your space. Identifying and removing potential pest attractors, modifying habitats and implementing a routine facility maintenance schedule can help give your business the boost it needs to power through happy hour pest free.
Potential Pest Attractors
Many pests are not picky eaters. This means that crumbs, sugary drinks, appetizers, and any other spilled foods are all fair game to hungry pests. In bars and other outdoor dining areas, a spilled drink or dropped dish can be enough to attract many types of pests. Be sure to clean up spills immediately to reduce the risk of attracting a pest population and wipe down counters, tables and other surfaces regularly to prevent pests from feasting on leftovers of food residue.
Pests Love Plants
Being outside, pests are typically in the surrounding vegetation, so keeping a watchful eye and implementing a routine check of your landscaping can help prevent a pest occurrence from becoming an infestation.
A few pests (and pest habits) to watch out for are:
- Many Species of Ants, are commonly found in vegetation and in the soil. Keeping plants nicely pruned and cleaning up food sources routinely will help reduce attraction and keep populations in check.
- Birds, such as pigeons, often roost in groups. Spotting multiple birds hanging out around your patio might mean they are interested in making your roof their home. Remind guests not to feed the birds too, it just attracts them in even more!
- Cockroaches are lovers of mulch, it’s usually dark and damp and holds lots of food crumbs. Some species like American cockroaches can get over an inch long so your guests will definitely notice.
- Mosquitoes need standing water and can breed in small puddles or rain-filled flower pots. Their high-pitched buzzing is annoyance enough, but they can also bite and spread diseases. Empty as much standing water as you can to prevent their populations from being around your guests.
- Rodents are easy to identify due to their large size (as compared to insects!). They can also leave droppings, and your landscaping can provide areas for their burrows or nests.
Gnats, flies, rodents, and other pests are like kids in a candy store when it comes to dumpsters and trash compactors, which are often located near restaurant patios. From food waste to dumpster juice, restaurants’ trash bins are the perfect food source for many types of pests. With a constant supply of food and packaging waste going to your trash bins, an effective waste management program is essential to keeping pests out of your restaurant—and out of your guests’ food—for good.
Position dumpsters and trash cans as far from the building as possible and ensure the lid is closed at all times to limit pests’ access to potential sources of food and shelter. If you notice that the lid of your dumpster won’t close all the way, you may need to increase the frequency of your waste management services. Regularly cleaning dumpsters and trash compactors also helps deter pests from approaching your business. Power wash the insides of your trash bins and the surrounding area to eliminate any residue from food waste and get rid of spills that may attract pests.
Engage Your Employees
Your employees are your first line of defense when it comes to spotting pest activity. Train your team what to look for and who to report it to. A great thing to have is a detailed pest sighting log. Your pest sighting log should include the type of pest spotted, number of pests, location and time of day. This information can help your pest management professional identify potential pest hot spots in your restaurant and react quickly, before it starts to affect your guests.
Consistent monitoring of pest activity also helps improve finding pests quickly. While pest pressures can vary based on location, weather and time of year, there are several pests that are common among all bars, restaurants and other eateries. From flies and ants to roaches and rodents, all face pest issues at one time or another. As pest pressures shift throughout the year, your pest sighting log can inform your pest management professional and help your restaurant stay on top of any potential pest problems that may be on the horizon.
While summer may be the ideal time to enjoy a nice meal outside, no guest wants to encounter a pest during their dining experience. Make sure your outdoor bar or seating area is protected from pests to protect your guests and bring in business all summer long.
Chelle Hartzer is Technical Services Manager for Orkin. She is a board-certified entomologist and provides technical support and guidance across all Rollins brands in the areas of operations, marketing and training.