“Cleanliness is not next to godliness. It isn’t even in the same neighborhood. No one has ever gotten a religious experience out of removing burned-on cheese from the grill of the toaster oven.” Author Erma Bombeck. However, keeping a clean kitchen (and restaurant) is more than just something you check off a list. It is more a thought process, a way of life if you will. I have often heard it said that you can tell how much the team cares about a restaurant by how clean it is. In my opinion, this is absolutely true, and given the climate of today’s competitive restaurant industry it is essential to capture and retain as many loyal guests as possible. Every guest counts!
A guest begins to formulate their opinion from the second they walk through the front door of the restaurant. From the host stand all the way to the table you seat them at, the guest is surmising how much we care about the place, hence how much we care about their dining experience. According to a study conducted by Technomic, many diners rank the cleanliness of a restaurant as important as the taste and quality of the food. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the place clean, and we hold each other accountable with how we approach our jobs on a daily basis. It is not difficult. It just requires due diligence and the whole hearted commitment of every team member from the owners to the busboys, the chefs to the dishwashers. Getting the whole team on board with your vision is essential to achieving your goals. This can be accomplished with relative simplicity through a consistent program of organization, scheduling, a little “elbow grease” and following-up to hold everyone accountable.
Just because we all agree that keeping the restaurant and kitchen clean is simple does not mean it will be easy. It requires constant vigilance and a commitment to excellence. “Clean as You Go” & “A.B.C. Always be Cleaning” & “If you can lean, you can clean” are not just cute catch phrases. When the staff takes pride in the appearance and cleanliness of a restaurant it makes a difference. People notice! People notice if the restrooms are dirty. People notice if there is gum on the bottom of the table. People notice dusty fans and dirty windows. We must train ourselves and our team to also notice these things.
I am writing this from a Sous Chef’s outlook, so my focus here is primarily on the Back of House, although in reality there is just One House. Cleanliness is of paramount importance in the kitchen. From the counters to the knives and spatulas to the plates being free of smudges and so on and so forth. Cleaning is a way of life. Yoda would tell us “Cleanest kitchen you must keep”. And like all good things in life, this starts with a list.
DAILY CLEANING LIST:
~Clean fryers front to back & top to bottom, rolling out and cleaning underneath and inside.
~Sanitize all surfaces, especially the cutting boards (which need to be cleaned after every use to avoid cross-contamination).
~Brush/scour grills, walls, and anywhere else you see dirt or grease.
~Clean knives, tongs, spatulas and line utensils every two hours
~Change sanitizer buckets whenever dirty or every 2 hours
~Always keep a clean towel within reach and replace when dirty putting soiled towels in laundry bag immediately
~Ensure all aprons, towels, chef’s coats in use are clean and laundered and replace with new ones as needed.
~Sanitize and keep clean all equipment, ie-slicers, nutribullets, mandolins, etc. Never leave something dirty.
~Sweep line every hour, and keep clean. Sweep and mop all floors daily including walk-in and behind anything with wheels.
~Clean grease traps and drains daily
~Clean dishwashing machine per manufacturer and keep clean. A clean machine makes for clean plates, silver and glassware. Ensure daily all plates, silver and glassware are cleaned, sanitized, dried and put away. No exceptions.
~Replace any aluminum foil liners on range, fryer, counters or grill for next days service
~Empty all trash can liners and dispose of and clean trash cans as needed
~Empty recyclables and dispose of per kitchen policy
~Wash floor mats and allow to dry
~Clean & sanitize sinks, faucets, etc.
~Dispose of grease and oil as needed in accordance with policy & procedures.
~Check for evidence of pests or rodents and address any concerns.
~ALWAYS ALWAYS do a walk-thru and if you notice something fix it before locking up.
~Remember it is a journey not a destination & people respond better to positive reinforcement!
~Hold each other accountable & take pride in your restaurant as it is a direct reflection of you!
WEEKLY CLEANING LIST:
~Deep clean hoods and filter
~Deep clean ovens
~Empty, clean & sanitize reach-in coolers and walk-in refrigerators & freezers
~Flush floor drains with drain cleaner
~Assign team cleaning “project” as needs of kitchen dictate.
MONTHLY CLEANING LIST:
~Eradicate grease build up anywhere that needs more attention ie-behind fryers, walls, ceilings, floors, flat-tops, stoves and ovens.
~Check hoods and filters inspection current etc.
~Deep clean walls, metal racks, anywhere needing attention
~Check entire premises for any concerns and address as needed
~Assign team cleaning project as needs of kitchen dictate.
In conclusion, remember Rome was not built in a day, but it was destroyed in hours. Remain vigilant with this program because as we mentioned before it may be simple but it is not necessarily easy. We can build and establish guidelines and habits and through the things mentioned here we will ensure that we set ourselves and our team up for success!!! We make food not excuses!!
David McDonough, April 1, 2016
Sous Chef @ DeLiteFul of Thousand Oaks, CA