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No goo in the loo

Ever enjoyed a meal out when everything — the food, the service, the ambiance — seems to be just right, only to walk into the restroom and feel like you've been transported to a third world country? Instantly, all of your good impressions give way to an uneasy feeling about the sanitary conditions of the kitchen and the food you've been enjoying.

A survey conducted for Kimberly-Clark Corp. revealed that 77% of diners believe that an unsanitary restroom would strongly affect their opinion of the establishment's food handling practices. And they have good reason to be wary. There are too many stories about e-coli and other types of foodborne illness in the news.

Keeping your bathrooms in tip-top shape with regular checks and cleanings will not only keep guest impressions positive and food handling practices safe, but can also add a special touch to your operation's overall ambience.

Here are my suggestions:

  • Designate a male and female employee to perform restroom checks every half-hour. A host or hostess is usually the best pick. Instead of just assigning the task, explain why it is so important to keep the restrooms clean and sanitary.
  • Create a checklist to follow during restroom checks. Include tasks like picking paper up off the floor, wiping sinks and countertops with a towel, stocking paper and refilling soap dispensers. Have check-off boxes for each item, and a space for the designated employee to initial that the list is complete. We've created a downloadable restroom check form you can download, photocopy and put to use. We post ours on the back of the restroom door so customers know we check regularly.
  • Conduct a thorough cleaning each night after the restaurant closes. Utilize a more detailed checklist so tasks aren't overlooked, and correct cleaning and sanitizing procedures are followed. This list should include a line for a manager or supervisor to sign-off after the white glove inspection has been given.
  • Instill awareness among your entire staff. Anytime an employee visits the restroom they should do a quick inspection and thoroughly wash their hands before returning to work. A clean and sanitary operation is everyone's responsibility.
  • Go a step above and beyond to make the restrooms pleasant. It's my theory that men decide to go out to eat, but women decide where to eat. Sparkling restrooms with little extras like hand lotion, hair products, fresh flowers and nice pictures create a lasting impression that helps influence a dining decision.

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