Full-service restaurant operators often rely on third-party service providers to come in and clean the hoods, flues, and fans in their kitchens. This can often upset kitchen schedules and routines, creating mess and requiring temporary closures that may result in lost revenue.
“The process of keeping the exhaust system clean is one of the biggest pain points in a restaurant kitchen,” says Alex Ferguson, the AutoMist commercial leader for Restaurant Technologies. “Safety in the kitchen is a big concern for chefs and operators, and when a third-party service cleans the exhaust, there’s a lot of uncertainty around that.”
But despite the status quo, restaurants now have another option for cleaning their exhaust systems, according to Ferguson. Automated solutions clean exhaust systems daily, increasing equipment performance, staff efficiency, and safety.
Here, we identify three critical ways that daily cleaning can improve conditions and save you money.
1. Prevent Grease Fires
“Grease fires are a very significant concern for restaurants,” Ferguson says. “There could be 90 days of waste build-up between third-party cleanings, and that creates a very dirty, unsafe environment.”
According to Ferguson, it’s very difficult for third-party cleaning services to adequately clean the entire exhaust system. There are horizontal areas of flue systems in particular that many servicers will identify as inaccessible, but will still pass inspections.
“These areas have been found to have significant build up,” Ferguson says, “and that creates a huge risk for fire.”
Automated systems eliminate the need for third-party services by installing sprayers along the hood and up the flue to the exhaust fan, which then deploys a programmable detergent spray. The detergent is administered daily to keep the entire exhaust system in a constant state of cleanliness. By ensuring that build-up never accumulates in any area of the exhaust system, chefs and operators can rest easier, knowing their risk for grease fires has been significantly reduced.
2. Eliminate Costly Downtime
“There are a lot of touch points which may be affected by a third-party exhaust service,” Ferguson says. “Downtime is a big concern for operators who may have to close their kitchens while the exhaust system is serviced.”
Operators who implement an automated exhaust cleaning system will save money on recurring—and sometimes unreliable—third-party servicing. In addition, restaurants will recoup costs because the will not have close down during servicing and inspections.
Automated cleaning systems such as AutoMist operate at regular intervals throughout the day, removing residue before it builds up. By eliminating manual cleaning, operators can avoid shutting down operations to accommodate inspections and services. This ensures that chefs and kitchen staff can maintain sanitation standards without interruption.
3. Maintain Sanitary Conditions
“When kitchen exhaust systems are unclean, it affects the air quality in the kitchen,” Ferguson says. “It’s a dirty process and when there’s build-up, that can get circulated by system fans.”
It can also be difficult for kitchen staff to work around or recover service standards immediately following scheduled maintenance. Having additional people on site means more clean-up is needed in order to ensure sanitary surfaces are not affected by servicers.
By replacing irregular manual exhaust cleaning by a daily, automated cleaning system, operators can ensure that their chefs and kitchen staff are working in a clean, healthy environment.
“At any point during the day, chefs can see that their exhaust systems are in a constant state of clean,” Ferguson says. “That improves performance not only of the equipment itself but of employees who have to engage with those systems on a regular basis.”