Valentines day is just around the corner. Imagine making reservations, arranging care for the kids and taking the time to visit a new restaurant for a romantic evening with a loved one. When you get home there are chocolates and champagne on ice for a romantic movie when your partner says their stomach is hurting, then they begin to sweat and finally have to excuse themselves to the bathroom where they stay for the rest of the evening. Not such a nice evening after all is it? But what could have caused it?
Well lets rewind this scenario back to the restaurant, earlier in the day, during the lunch shift. As the lunch shift winds down, the cook will set up for the night shift. Part of the set up is to make sure all of the food is fully stocked. But they are also required to change out all of the utensils for clean ones but in the chaos of the transition from lunch to dinner this important step was missed and all of the scoops that have been used all day continued into the night without being washed.
The problem with this is when the cook uses these implements they transfer a common pathogen that many humans carry, Staphylococcus aureus, to the utensils which are then left in the food products. In fact, this same pathogen staph is the same thing that causes people to get infected cuts or wounds. The problem is when you allow this pathogen to grow on the food via our scoops it creates a poison that quickly makes people sick, within 1 to 6 hours. Will this turn into a major food born illness outbreak? Hopefully not. Could this happen to more than one customer? Absolutely, and their probably not going to call the health department but you can be sure these folks will never dine in your place again. And hopefully they don’t share their experience at you facility on Trip Advisor or Yelp.
One thing that we have to be aware of is that these busy holiday nights are not just an opportunity for a profitable shift but an opportunity to show people who might not have ordinarily dined with us how great of a place we are. It doesn’t have to be a full blown disease like we had in the scenario above, it could be as simple as a stomach ache that turns them off. Heck, they might not even get sick but they happen to see a busy staff member doing some that just looks gross like wearing their apron into the bathroom or eating behind the bar. These days need to be planned out carefully with thoughtful preparation and staffing because if you can’t get them right they can really hurt your business in the end more than the profits for the day are worth.