In an age of heightened health concerns, maintaining proper cleaning and sanitation procedures at your restaurant is more important than ever. As a manager, you know how important it is to create an outstanding guest experience, and that starts with ensuring a clean dining environment for your patrons.

Perhaps nowhere is this more important than outdoor areas like patios, porches and decks. For many restaurants, these spaces create an alluring atmosphere for customers to enjoy. Unfortunately, they are also highly susceptible to pest issues. With little or no protective barriers between the outdoors and your customers, pests can more easily take up a seat at your tables—leaving dissatisfied diners in their wake. No one wants to share a meal with insects, birds or rodents.

Keep All Outdoor Dining Spaces as Clean As Possible

Keep all outdoor dining spaces as clean as possible, ensuring the floors are swept and tables wiped down after every shift. This includes hard-to-reach areas in corners and under the tables. Pests are attracted to food scraps, and any extra clutter left lying about provides them with more hiding places. A full deep clean should be performed every two weeks, at a minimum.

Clean Up Food & Water Spills Immediately

Clean up any food and water spills immediately, and clear tables quickly after customers exit. Accidents happen, but the sooner you can remove any exposed food sources, the less opportunities pests have to seek them out.

Place Waste Receptacles Away From The Dining Area

Place dumpsters and other garbage receptacles as far away from the dining area as possible, as any odorous refuse will attract pests. Be sure that the areas around these containers aren’t showing signs of leaks and that all lids are tightly sealed. It’s also a good idea to work with your waste management provider to set a regular pickup and dumpster rotation schedule.

Replace Your Lighting

Replace fluorescent lights with sodium vapor bulbs, which are less attractive to flies and other flying insects.

Maintain Landscaping Around Your Dining Areas

Ensure flower beds and landscaping around the building or adjacent to outdoor dining areas are well-maintained to eliminate harbourage for pests such as rodents, wasps or spiders. This includes ornamental plants as well, since potted plants can harbour soilburrowing insects like crickets and outdoor cockroaches. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to small flies like fungus gnats and midges breeding and invading the dining areas.

Inspect Eaves & Flat Ledges For Nests

Inspect eaves, flat ledges and similar structures for wasp nests, spider webs and bird roosting spots. Where birds roost, they leave behind droppings and bird mites.

Seal Cracks & Crevices

Seal cracks and crevices in the floor to prevent pavement ants from foraging in the dining areas.

Check Wood Structures For Moisture

Check to ensure wood structures are not moisture-compromised, as this can attract carpenter ants.

Following these basic tips will provide a great start to ensuring a pest-free outdoor dining environment for your customers. In addition, talk to your pest management provider about setting up an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for your restaurant, which can help address more specific concerns. Your provider will examine the property and make detailed recommendations for pest exclusion, prevention and treatment. It’s the best way to remain confident that your restaurant is protected from pests, no matter the season or circumstances.

Need a quick reference guide for all of this? You can also download our expert tip sheet here.