We are in the midst of a brand-new world in the restaurant industry. Because of the impact COVID-19 has had on the industry, we are all truly learning as we go along about how to keep our employees and guests safe, while at the same time trying to stay profitable. But while this has brought many difficulties for restaurant owners, it has also brought some good things.
Restaurants Are Cleaner Than Ever
Never before have restaurants been so clean, sanitized, and disinfected. If you’ve been an early bird and already dined out, you might have noticed managers and employees now invest so much time in making sure that every table, chair, bar stool, bar top is clean, sanitized and disinfected before welcoming guests.
Now is the time to go to a restaurant.
Now is the time to eat at a restaurant.
Yes, many of the food and beverage operations are using disposables, paper, and plastic to comply with new sanitation requirements. Yes, many of them are serving meals out of takeout containers and their cocktails out of plastic cups. But the dining area is clean; the dumpster area is clean; the parking lot is clean. The employees are wearing gloves when they must, their hair is tied back, they are wearing face-coverings, and their uniforms are cleaned and maintained. It’s a great time to eat out.
Food Safety is Higher
Here is some more good news, the quality of the food being served at restaurants has never been better. Along with restaurants operating in a new way, new policies and procedures have also been put into place at all processing plants. Those facilities are cleaned, sanitized and disinfected at regular, scheduled intervals. The employees working in those plants are wearing proper glove and face-coverings and they are being trained in new ways, processing food in new ways. The standards have never been enforced with so much vigor and commitment.
Speaking of standards, here is the best news of all: the industry is finally realizing the importance of having a team member dedicated to the safety and sanitation of the facility.
As of a few weeks ago, Applebee’s announced the creation of a Sanitation Specialist position for each of their restaurants. It is the purpose of this team member to ensure the food safety and sanitation of the production and service area. This includes all employee and guest areas. This is fantastic news for the industry and hopefully many more large and small companies will follow suit.
Changing Restaurants For Good
I would like to offer that Applebee’s and all food-and-beverage operations take this position one step further and employ a food industry compliance manager. Professionals with this degree offer a triad approach to food management by focusing on food safety and compliance, leadership, and public health. The management level candidate would be ready to step into any food-and-beverage operation and begin to implement the FDA Model Food Code, as well as other public health standards from day one.
In addition, they will have the leadership skills necessary to step into an established team of managers without disrupting daily operations, as this position would be independent of the existing management team but would work alongside them to achieve the operational goals.
It is an exciting time in the industry, one filled with a lot of questions but also a lot of opportunity to establish high standards of food safety and sanitation, train to those standards, and hold employees to that standard during performance evaluations. Everyone, employees and guests alike, is on the same page of ensuring the safety and sanitation of the employee and the guest for the survival of the business.
What a great time to be in the business.