How to make your catering business Covid-clean for re-opening

Want to give your newly re-opened catering business a clean bill of health? Expert Steve Williams, owner of The Cleaning Consultancy, answers the big cleaning questions for post-lockdown.

What are the key points every caterer should consider to keep their business safe and clean?

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to what your cleaning regime should look like. But you can work out what’s right for your business. First, look at how many people you can serve when you’ve reconfigured your space. Second, plan the amount of covers you can do at one time, and work out the profit you need to make, and this will tell you how often you need to turn the tables.

Then count how many staff you’ll need front of house and in the kitchen to make, cook and serve, then allow extra time for them to clean during service and between service. Remember to consider how customers are going to get to their table, up to the counter, or access the toilets. These will be your heavy footfall areas and need more attention. And finally, when you reopen or hire new staff, don’t forget to factor in the time it takes to train your team on how to clean and sanitise properly.

What advice can you give to self-serve and wait-in-line outlets?

Heavy footfall is likely in these businesses so regular cleaning is essential. Someone’s got to be seen to be cleaning that line during service, preferably wearing some kind of PPE, to put customers’ minds at ease.

How regularly should caterers be doing a deep clean?

For a small café of approx. 90 sqm with around 50 covers, I recommend a deep steam clean every night. With the right equipment it should take no more than an hour in the kitchen and an hour in the seating area. If you’ve got staff washing dishes in the back, then they should also be seen going into the restaurant, wiping down, spraying chairs and tables constantly. It takes moments, but it demonstrates that your customers’ health and safety is a priority.

What kind of equipment do you recommend for a deep clean?

Use a steam vacuum machine. Consider buying your own equipment. At around £3k, a good machine will do everything, for around the same price as a professional deep clean and you’ve got it for life.

How has COVID-19 changed the ways caterers think about cleaning?

Every business is going to have to up their game massively. The days of neighbourhood cafés whose toilets weren’t regularly cleaned, or kitchens that weren’t in tip-top condition are over. It’s not just about compliance, your customers just won’t accept it anymore. These days, hygiene won’t be a one-off incident.

Deep cleans are necessary but maintenance is everything. Good hygiene has got to be front and centre of how you operate. It’s a bit like having a COVID-19 test that says you’re negative. It’s just a moment in time. It might be that you’re in the clear now, but anyone with the virus could arrive at your venue at any time, from a customer to your short order chef. That’s why cleaning and hygiene has to be a major new investment in time and money.

Find out how The Cleaning Consultancy could help you.

Steve Williams, owner of The Cleaning Consultancy
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