Eleven spring cleaning tips for your restaurant operation

By Diane Chiasson

Spring is just around the corner, which means it is time for your operation’s annual spring clean campaign. This means cleaning your restaurant inside and out, top to bottom. Few people enjoy cleaning, but you can make it more palpable by getting your whole staff involved, and making it as fun as possible. Play energetic and fun music, open up a case of beer, order in some tasty food and get cleaning. Be sure to reward your staff accordingly.

If you are on a tight budget, there is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on brand name cleaners and detergents. Use every day products to give your appliances and countertops an extra shine. Rubbing alcohol is great for shining ovens and stovetops, as well as stainless steel work surfaces, while club soda is ideal to clean Formica countertops. Use lemon slices to get rid of tough stains. Use one part vinegar and three parts water to clean greasy areas. Clean out your pipes by pouring equal parts baking soda and salt down your drains and flushing them out with boiling water.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, reminds you to concentrate on the following areas of your restaurant or foodservice operation:

1. Power wash outside

As all the snow melts away, the outside of your restaurant is probably covered in dirt, grime, mud, salt and all kinds of residual winter elements. Give the front façade of your restaurant operation a serious power wash to rinse away the winter. Check for cracks and holes on the sidewalk/parking lot and either fix it yourself or call your city councilor to do the repairs to prevent customers from tripping or falling. Make sure your operation sparkles in the sun.

2. Give the floors a deep clean

After an entire winter season of customers trudging into your restaurant in their winter boots, your floors require a deep clean. To help maintain the wear and tear of your flooring, whether carpeting, tile or wood, hire a service that will deep clean using steam and heat. This small expense is worthwhile as it will delay the need to replace your floors entirely.

3. Clean the dining room

Check all the tables and chairs in the dining room for scrapes, scratches, gum or other debris. Touch up any scratches on the walls, and give the windows a good cleaning.

4. Lighting and electrical fixture

Check your entire operation including the washrooms, the kitchen, the dining room and outside for any light bulbs that have burned out. Wipe down all your lighting fixtures at the same time. While you are up on the ladder, you might consider making a permanent switch over to environmentally friendly bulbs, which would help you reduce your electricity bills. Calibrate the temperatures in your refrigerated units and ovens. Check your fire suppression system, and check all your fire extinguishers.

5. Concentrate heavily on the washrooms

The restrooms in your restaurant should be checked and cleaned on an hourly basis to ensure that your guests are experience the high level of service you are offering. They should be given a deep cleaning every night after closing. During your spring clean, go the extra distance by scrubbing and disinfecting everything. Assess the toilet seats, toilet paper rolls, garbage, faucets, sinks, paper towel dispensers, soap dispensers, mirrors and countertops and consider replacing any items that are beginning to look old and unsightly.

6. Clean the kitchen hood

The kitchen hood is an expensive piece in your restaurant operation, and all efforts should be made to keep it in good condition. The best way to clean the kitchen hood is by steam. Hire a service to steam clean the hood for you, or research on how to do it yourself. It is a key part of your operation that should be well-maintained.

7. Degrease the fryer and grill areas

Your fryer and grill areas are probably the greasiest areas of your kitchen and become a safety hazard for fires if too much grease builds up. Make sure you move the equipment and scrub the entire area, as well as the appliances themselves.

8. Clean out the fridge and freezer

The walk-in refrigerator and freezer areas are sometimes the scariest places in a restaurant operation. Remove all the contents, assess each item to see if it is still fresh, wipe down all the walls and shelving units and mop the floor. Then reorganize all the items in a neat and manageable system.

9. Reorganize shelves and storage areas

Check all the items in your pantry, shelves and storage areas for any expired items, and rotate through so that the oldest products are at the front. Reorganize all the products for a better storage system.

10. Go through the office

The office can tend to be the dumping ground for all paperwork involved. Go through all the piles of papers on your desk, file away important papers and shred the rest. A well-organized operation begins at the desk!

11. Spray down the dumpster

With the warmer weather approaching, it’s a good idea to give your dumpster area a good cleaning as well to ward off raccoons, rats and other pests looking for food.

About the author:
Diane Chiasson, FSCI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., is recognized as the world’s best restaurant, foodservice, merchandising, hospitality and retail consultant based in Toronto. She has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years.Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing consulting services including restaurant and retail merchandising, interior design, marketing, brand identity, menu design and training.