As we all know, the last few years have been a difficult time for many restaurateurs, as COVID-19 forced many to close their establishments while losing an incredible amount of business. Now that we’re starting to see a return to normalcy, restaurateurs have the opportunity to open their doors and prioritize the health and safety measures that are so important to customers in the wake of the global pandemic.
Fortunately, improving the health and safety of your business is easier than ever, thanks to advanced technology that can not only prevent problems, but also predict problems that may become problems later. Today, we’ll discuss technologies that can help keep your restaurant clean, avoid contamination, and make your employees feel safer at work.
If ever there was a time to focus your attention on restaurant cleaning, it’s after the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers want to know they are dining in a hygienic venue where they can enjoy their meal with the assurance that everything has been cleaned and sanitized. Although COVID-19 is fading away, we are still seeing the emergence of seasonal flu and respiratory illnesses due to changing weather, so there is always a chance of getting sick, and restaurants can do their part to keep it at bay From getting worse.
A major part of keeping customers healthy is making sure food is kept at the proper temperature so it doesn’t become contaminated. We know this is a problem because 1 in 6 Americans get sick every year from food contamination. A problem in restaurants is food being left out or not kept at the proper temperature. Now is a great time to upgrade to a high-tech refrigerator with an automatic temperature monitoring system that lets you get notified if the temperature drops too low. You can get alerts faster by looking at a smart refrigerator that can send alerts directly to a manager’s phone so they can take immediate action if necessary.
Many restaurants still use a manual process to check the food in the refrigerator and sort out what is usable and what may be contaminated or soon to expire. While this type of system works fine a lot of the time, humans can make mistakes and you only need to make one customer sick to bring your restaurant out of business. You can avoid these problems by entering everything in your kitchen into a database so you can get real-time alerts when food needs to be replaced.
Of course, the refrigerator isn’t the only place you need to keep food at the proper temperature. If you have a larger facility with storage rooms and other areas, then you can also have sensors around your facility that can tell you when temperatures are at unhealthy levels.
Prevent employees from making customers sick
Another concern that many restaurant patrons may have is that if sick employees touch or come near their food, it is a legitimate concern that they will also get sick. Again, technology can help, and it can start at the front of the house.
In addition to continuing to wear masks and maintain social distancing, you can help prevent customers from getting sick while ordering food by installing self-order kiosks so people can order without coming into contact with others. Some newer kiosks also allow customers to speak their order, so they don’t even need to touch the screen. Of course, restaurant staff should clean all touchscreens multiple times a day.
With COVID-19, flu, and other illnesses still circulating, you must not keep sick employees at work. As soon as employees start their shifts, they should be tested for potential illnesses. Right now, there’s great technology that can help, including the Squadle Sense thermal scanner, which is a device that attaches to the wall. Employees simply stand in front of it and it checks their temperature and gives applicable feedback. You can also ask your team screening questions about how their health has been over the past few days to make an informed decision on whether to let them work.
When you inevitably get a visit from the health department, it’s important to be prepared. You can stay a step ahead by implementing predictive analytics software that will comb through millions of data records from other restaurants in your area to identify potential risks that you, too, may be facing. You can then investigate and take appropriate precautions so you can pass inspection and keep your customers safe.
overall employee safety
In addition to food safety, avoiding contamination, and keeping sick workers out of the kitchen, there are other ways you can use technology to help keep your workers safe wherever they are. For example, you should continue to use fire and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your restaurant and check them regularly to make sure they are in working order.
You can take this concept a step further by installing panic buttons in areas where employees work and congregate the most. If employees are injured while preparing food, spot a fire, or feel threatened in any way, they can press the panic button and your team can take immediate action. Combine this with proper security systems and cameras, and management can always be aware of potential risks.
While technology can do wonders for keeping your team safe, it’s important that you continually train your workforce on how to use the technology and how to respond properly in an emergency. Continue to hold a daily safety meeting at the start of the workday to review all immediate risks and ask your team if there are any concerns. Management must always maintain an open door policy and address issues as soon as they are raised by customers.
As you can see, technology will continue to impact the restaurant industry and its impact on the health and safety of employees and customers. Keep finding ways to grow and your restaurant will weather the storm.
Jori Hamilton is a feature writer Restaurant Technology News. She has over 8 years of experience in the restaurant and fine dining industry, having worked for several prestigious establishments over the years. Jori covers a wide range of topics, but because of her past industry experience, she is particularly interested in covering topics related to restaurant productivity, FOH and BOH management, and restaurant technology.Want to know more, follow her Twitter and LinkedIn.
Are you an industry thought leader with an opinion on restaurant technology that you would like to share with our readers? If so, we invite you to review our editorial guidelines and submit your article for consideration for publication.