The Lessons of Restaurant Impossible: Cleanliness
The second of Robert Irvine’s shared nuggets of wisdom on Restaurant Impossible is the importance of cleanliness — perhaps the most vital, but also the most testy, value he passes along. On the show, viewers see into the kitchens, freezers, and other storage areas of failing restaurants, where often the cameras catch sight of mold, mildew, mouse droppings, and cockroaches. Actually, one restaurant owner later claimed that the show planted animal scat simply to sensationalize the degree of problems the owners were having for better TV. Either way, these restaurants are usually dingy at best and disgusting at worst.
Now no restaurateur wants to hear he or she needs to clean better — it’s offensive in that it suggests a lack of simple professionalism. (Standards of cleanliness and food storage are, after all, legally mandated and a point of pride for many in the business.) The problem with regards to the business side of things is that consumers are increasingly wary about issues related to restaurant hygiene — how could they not be, with all these shows? — and are therefore more on the lookout than ever before. Plus, as Restaurant Impossible shows us, the dirtiness of some establishments doesn’t always reflect the owners’ or managers’ lacks of business sense or care.
Instead, sometimes it just implies busyness and a resultant lack of delegation. Everyone, from the owners to the managers to the wait staff, needs to be responsible for cleaning and hygiene. It seems so simple, so obvious, but at a busy restaurant it can get away from you. It’s not only about maintaining legal standards of health (although everyone better be doing that), it’s also about presenting the clean, cared for, and welcoming vibe of a well-maintained, friendly eatery that people will want to come back to.
Appearances matter, like it or not. If your restaurant feels dingy and less-than-cared for, people will assume it is. Instead, sparkle! Make cleanliness a priority at every level; your customers will reward you for it.
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