7 Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Bar or Restaurant

cleaning tips for your restaurantIt’s that time of year again.  Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and your customers have an extra, “I’m so glad winter is over,” bounce in their step.  Be sure to greet them with a fresh, clean environment that everyone can sing about.  Time to roll up your sleeves and tackle the dirt and grime that have been building up all year long. Time for spring cleaning!

1. Curbside appeal
When you drive up to work everyday, you might not notice all the details a first-time customer will see when they pull into your lot or walk up to your door.  Make a good first impression by tidying up outside, adding a few welcoming spring flowers, or offering an inviting bench for patrons waiting on friends or family to arrive.  Always make sure you have a convenient place for your guests to toss their trash, as well, so you can continue to maintain a beautiful entrance.

2. Carpets, curtains, linens, accessories
Once inside, take a look around. Do you need new carpets? What about window coverings? How do your table linens look? It might be a good time to call your linen supply company and talk about how you can freshen up your interior.  Also, evaluate your decorations and accessories. How regularly are those picture frames being cleaned? What about those plaques hanging near your doorway? Do you have other wall art or shelf decorations that need cleaned – or changed out for a more contemporary look?  Now is a great time to redecorate and refresh your linens and other decor pieces.

3. Deep clean the kitchen and bar
Do you remember the first time you watched Bar Rescue or Restaurant: Impossible and had a slight panic attack when the team revealed a layer of grease and grime on the bottom shelf behind the bar, because you couldn’t remember the last time you looked that closely at your own bottom shelf booze?  Did you race to work the next day with a bucket in hand?  Now’s the time to get down and get dirty. Really give your kitchen, prep, bar, and food storage areas a deep clean to remove anything that would embarrass you if Jon Taffer came walking through your doors, cameras rolling.

4. Bathrooms
In 2013, USA Today reported, “Some 50% of restaurant patrons who have a negative experience with a bathroom — from dirty toilets to grimy soap dispenses to bad odors — will blab about it to friends and family, according to a recent survey by Harris Interactive for SCA Tissue North America.”  The evidence is real; a dirty bathroom means lost business and a filthy reputation.  Cleaning a bathroom is a multiple-times-a-day activity at your bar or restaurant, but this spring, go beyond the surface.  Look at tile health and clean the grouting. Tune up the toilets and faucets for efficiency. Clean the inside of the paper towel holders.  Would your patrons enjoy a basket of might-needs on the counter?  Do the baby changing tables need any TLC in both the women’s or men’s bathrooms?  Review your vendor prices and Eco-friendly promises to make sure you’re still satisfied with their bathroom supply products and services.  After all, the bathroom is perhaps more important than the kitchen in your customers’ eyes.

5. Furniture and equipment
Every year, you should inspect your restaurant furniture and foodservice equipment for signs of wear and tear.  For example, make sure all the legs on wooden furniture are sturdy and tighten up any loose bolts. Check for scratches on metal frames and touch up with a can of spray paint. Repair any rips or tears in torn vinyl seats or upholstered restaurant booths. Ensure all of your kitchen appliances are running properly and efficiently. Be sure to take out of service any furniture or equipment that is no longer safe for everyday use and replace with safer products.  Wooden table tops may need re-sanded, or outside teak furniture may need re-oiled.  These items work hard for you, facing many rigors in a commercial environment, so it’s important you give them some TLC each year to increase their lifespan.

6. Staff uniforms
Being fashion-forward, clean, and neat are important attributes for a waitstaff’s wardrobe.  If you have veteran employees with older uniforms, be sure there are no rips, tears, or big, fat, ugly stains on their clothing. Make sure staff are equipped with the best aprons, chef gear, or company t-shirts, so your staff are always presenting the best image of your brand. Ask staff to do an inventory of their apparel for you, and make sure everyone has a clean, new-looking set of uniforms ready for when they head to work next!

7. Staff re-training
Cleanliness is an everyday priority at your establishment, and you teach safe practices at every opportunity. But organizing some refresher courses for staff will help reinforce the importance for everyone.  Take the time to review cross-contamination prevention and proper hand-washing techniques, while also reminding staff of the right way to clean table tops, disinfect prep counters, and address regular bathroom check-ups. Spring is also a great season to review the cleaning products you’re using for each application for cleaning power, price, and convenience, and make sure to communicate which products your staff should use where.

After completing these seven steps, you’ll be bragging to your Health Department officer and feeling really proud to serve your customers in a refreshed and germ-free environment. Go you!


Sourcing Local Foods During the Winter for Your Restaurant

The local food movement has gained popularity in recent years as more and more chefs, restaurant managers, and even everyday food shoppers show a preference for locally-sourced food. It continues to gain traction around the United States as a growing number of people become more socially and environmentally responsible consumers.  If your servers can place fresh food atop your cafe tables year round, your food-conscience patrons will appreciate your concerns…and the tastiness of your cuisine!

"Fresh food for dinner" by Tammy Strobel, RowdyKittens on Flickr (http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8217/8333713835_2f486e2278_o.jpg)

“Fresh food for dinner” by Tammy Strobel, RowdyKittens on Flickr (http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8217/8333713835_2f486e2278_o.jpg)

Advantages of Eating Local

Eating local benefits not only those who produce locally-sourced food and those who buy it, it also is good for communities as a whole. Many people who eat local form long-lasting relationships with the farmers from whom they buy, and locally-sourced food is more nutritious than what you will find from your bulk food distributors.

Further, the environmental benefits are significant: food that doesn’t have to be transported hundreds or thousands of miles produces a much lower carbon footprint.

Sourcing Locally During the Fall and Winter

If your restaurant is concentrating on providing customers with locally-sourced food, remember that your menu may be limited to what is on hand in the region that you live in. You’re offering autumn harvest menu entrees now, but what happens when the snow begins to fall?  Here are some suggestions for finding market-sourced food during the cold months.

  • Purchase local meat and dairy. Raising animals isn’t limited to the spring and summer. Be sure to talk to local farmers and buyer’s groups so that you will be able to create new dishes using locally-raised meats.
  • Some Fruits and Vegetables Are “Winter Ready.” Farmers often use greenhouses, fermentation, cold storage, and other methods to grow produce the whole year. Many of them also use root cellars and climate-controlled spaces on their land that allow them to store produce.
  • Find a CSA Program That Offers Variety. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, allows you to have a relationship with a farmer or group of farmers who will supply you with local food during the entire year. They often pool their produce and sell it to restaurants, schools, and families. The more farmers there are in the group, the better your winter produce selection will be.

Don’t let the cold months stop you from serving your customers farm-to-table food!  During winter, you can still offer fresh, seasonal, and delicious items that will tempt guests’ taste buds and convince them to venture to your restaurant for a wonderful, local meal no matter the weather.