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Restaurants & the Pests That Love Them

If you own or manage a restaurant, then you know the issues that can come up. A negative social media post can hurt your reputation and lead to less customers. Kitchen staff turnover can create inconsistent food. And you know servers come and go and retraining can lead to wasted time and a lower quality of service.

Let’s face it – good management can fix all that, but what’s the issue that even great management can’t handle on its own? Pests! When it comes to pests, it’s best to leave it to the pros.

A pest problem can actually drag your reputation through the mud – but what’s worse is the possibility of making your patrons sick. If you know the most common pests that can plague a restaurant, then you can be ready for them. Here are just a few:

Fruit Flies – These pests are so small most people often think they’re gnats. But fruit flies are considerably worse. They breed by using the decomposed matter in rotting or over-ripe foods like bananas. They are attracted to more than just fruit, though. Even a beer tap or the hose lines they’re attached to that haven’t been properly cleaned will attract fruit flies. They are more than an annoyance – they are a risk to the health of you, your employees, and your guests. Transferring germs from a filthy spot (like a toilet or that dirty tap) to a clean spot is just one thing they can do. If a fully mature female fruit fly lays eggs on something that is rotting or even just moist (think a wet mop), it will be able to drop 2,000 eggs at a time. After a little over a day’s time, maggots will come out of those eggs and thrive on the rotten food they were in. After 48 hours, they are fully mature and ready to mate to create even more fruit flies. That is a fast infestation just waiting to happen.

Rodents – This is no children’s movie. This is real life and in real life a mouse or rat running through your kitchen or dining room can sink a restaurant pretty quickly. Besides the bad press it will cause, you could make your customers sick with food that has been contaminated by those rodents. Rats and mice both can spread diseases through their saliva, urine, droppings, and even their fur. Even if the rodent is arguably healthy – they can still drag bacteria around on their feet. Since their teeth continuously grow, they will naturally gnaw on anything they can find. Cardboard boxes are attractive especially since they will probably have food inside, but rodents are also attracted to electrical wire. Frayed wires can be a fire risk. Rats and mice will damage materials and supplies and will end up costing money that could have been avoided with some preventative measures. One of the easiest ways to prevent them is to close the kitchen door. We know it gets hot, but it’s a nice welcome sign for pests of all kinds. In reality, rodents don’t even need a fully open door or window. Mice only need a hole the size of a dime, and rats only need a hole the size of a quarter to squeeze through. Keeping them out is not easy, but a professional will not only treat for the pests you have now but will install what they call ‘exclusions’ to try to deter them from coming in at all.

Cockroaches – These pests are commonly associated with dirty conditions. Because of that, they will most certainly hurt a restaurant’s reputation. Besides your reputation, they will spoil and contaminate food, possibly leading to customer illnesses. They crawl in dirty places like sewers, on toilets, or in a dumpster right before crawling on your clean cooking or food prep surfaces, transferring the bacteria they picked up from the dirty spots. The bacteria they can transfer can cause food poisoning, E.coli, dysentery, gastroenteritis, Cholera, and typhoid fever. In addition, their shed skins and feces can induce an allergic reaction – specifically if they end up in the air ducts and those items get filtered throughout your restaurant. At the end of the day, cockroaches will always be lumped together with filth. So even if you have a sparkling clean kitchen and dining room, a roach running through will deter repeat customers.

You can take care of these pests. Using a professional pest control company to perform their services on a regular schedule is the best way. Any reputable company will use trained, licensed technicians who are not just certified to use the treatments for these pests but are trained to employ Integrated Pest Management. Waltham Pest Services is experienced in IPM and can help with that.

A negative review mentioning any of these pests and your restaurant in the same sentence is costly. Something can be done but remember if you do receive a negative review – even if it’s about pests – be sure to get in front of it. Responding immediately and publicly is key. Always thank the customer for providing the feedback. A negative review is still helpful, so don’t try to argue your way out of it. It never works. Say you’re sorry without hollow excuses and offer to fix their experience, but do it offline. Direct messaging is where you want the back and forth nitty gritty. The rest being public will just show anyone else that you take your patrons’ reviews and thoughts to heart. That way, you can focus on what you do – FOOD.

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