How To Keep Diners In – And Pests Out – This Summer
By Hope Bowman
The days are longer, the weather is warmer and the waiting list for your restaurant’s outdoor patio is growing. Summer has arrived, and it’s not just the busiest season for the foodservice industry – it’s also the busiest season for pests.
From spiders that enter through cracked windows to mosquitoes that gather around air conditioning units, your restaurant is at an increased risk of pest threats this summer. And summer pests can lead to yearlong problems, damaging both your business reputation and your bottom line.
To mitigate these threats, restaurants should implement an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy. Effective IPM programs take a preventative approach to pest control, anticipating and eliminating threats through continuous assessment and monitoring. A critical component of any IPM strategy is stringent sanitation standards – particularly in the summer.
Take a tour around your restaurant and note the areas most susceptible to sanitation issues and pests. Then, learn the proper sanitation practices to implement in and around your building. From the kitchen to the dumpster, keep these locations on your watch list:
- Kitchen: Diners come to your restaurant for the food – and so do the pests. The food, smells, and waste your kitchen produces makes an irresistible combination for summer pests, including flies and cockroaches. To mitigate the risk, be sure your staff incorporates these sanitation steps into their daily routine:
- Inspect all Incoming Shipments: Pests frequently enter restaurants through external deliveries. Inspect all food shipments for signs of pests, including droppings, eggs, gnaw marks, and carcasses. After inspection, break down and throw out all cardboard boxes. Cockroaches can feed on the glue that holds the boxes together.
- Clean the Drain: Be on alert for grease or grime build-up around your drain covers and scrub drains. These are prime breeding grounds for flies and can be easily combatted with organic cleaner.
- Monitor the Trash: Trash receptacles accumulate food and liquid waste on both their interiors and exteriors. Line trash cans, remove the trash daily and wipe down the trash cans to ensure pests aren’t attracted to leftover accumulation.
- Back of the Building: The most common way for pests to get inside a building is by infiltrating the outside. Oftentimes, this means entering through the back of the building, where dumpsters, overgrown vegetation, and standing water can create a pest playground.
Your staff can stay ahead of the risks if they:
- Check the Dumpster: The scent of rotting food and the spill-over of food and liquid waste makes a dumpster an easy target for pests, including flies, birds and rodents. Keep dumpsters as far away from the building as possible and hose them down frequently to remove waste.
- Cut Down Vegetation: Overgrown vegetation near your building, including grass and vines, makes it easy for pests to hop from the parking lot to the kitchen. Be sure to mow any grass and trim back any weeds, vines or flowers.
- Don’t Let Water Stand Still: Standing water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Be sure to eliminate any sources of standing water, including leaks from air conditioning units.
- The Dining Areas: Both indoor and outdoor dining areas can attract pests, and these can often be the most dangerous to your business. After all, no diner wants to see a cockroach scurrying across the floor. Be sure to follow these sanitation steps:
- Avoid Crumbs: Sweep and vacuum the floor throughout the day, paying attention to cracks and crevices where pests could be hiding. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can remove the hard-to-find dust and debris.
- Wipe Down Counters: After customers have finished their meals, be sure to wipe down tables and counters with a disinfecting solution. Even the smallest leftover crumb can lead to a full-fledged infestation.
- Clean up Spills: Even if it’s just water, be sure to immediately mop up any liquids on the floor. Rats can glean nourishment from just a few drops of liquid.
Don’t let pests ruin your busiest season. By implementing these simple sanitation techniques as part of a larger IPM strategy, you’ll be able to keep the summer pests out – and your diners coming in – all summer long.
Hope Bowman is a Technical Specialist and Board-Certified Entomologist with Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.