Restaurants taking extra sanitizing precautions during pandemic – Jefferson City News Tribune

Restaurant News

Although Jefferson City’s restaurant business has had to make changes, many are still operating. Dining rooms are closed because of orders to limit public groups to 10 or less, but restaurants are adapting by offering carry-out, curbside service or delivery.

One element of the restaurant industry that is not continuing as normal is restaurant inspections.

The Jefferson City Department of Planning and Protective Services Environmental Health Division oversees restaurant inspections in the city. Environmental Health Manager David Grellner said the division is not conducting routine restaurant inspections at this time.

Staff in the division are instead being redirected to responding to questions or concerns about coronavirus from food establishments, child care facilities and other businesses.

The city will still conduct follow-up and complaint inspections at restaurants, as well as pre-opening inspections for new businesses, but routine inspections — normally about 40-50 per month — will not take place.

While owner Scot Drinkard closed Spectator’s Bar & Grill and the Office Bar, he has kept The Pizza Company in Jefferson City and BJ’s Restaurant and Lounge in Linn open for carry-out only.

The top cleaning practice they’re instituting is having little, if any, contact with customers.

“We’re trying to do everything with a credit card over the phone, or if they’re paying cash, we ask them to give the exact amount,” Drinkard said. “We obviously aren’t shaking hands or any of that type of crazy stuff.”

The businesses have also been busy cleaning, whether wiping down tables and chairs, wrapping silverware in cellophane or asking staff to use hand sanitizer regularly.

At The Pizza Company, Drinkard said, they even dumped the salt, pepper, parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes out of their containers so employees could wash the vessels inside and out.

For food services still operating, the city’s Environmental Health Division is sharing advice from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on cleaning and preventing spread of COVID-19.

The DHSS recommends surfaces be cleaned with soap and water to remove dirt and food before using sanitizers or disinfectants.

Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected frequently, including bathroom surfaces, keyboards, tables and chairs, and doorknobs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides a list of 357 products that meet criteria for use against COVID-19 on its website, which DHSS recommends consulting. Products on the list include common brands found in stores, such as Clorox and Lysol.

Near downtown Jefferson City, Towne Grill owner Matt Bullock has been spraying hydrogen peroxide and wiping off areas people might touch, including door handles, the bathroom sink, toilet area and the cash register. They also have been wiping down tables and chairs in the diner.

Maintaining proper distance between employees and customers has been one of Bullock’s top priorities. The business is offering carry-out curbside pickup and delivery for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Recently, Bullock created some stations in his dining room that have assigned heat and cooling bags. Bullock will place customers’ food in the bags

“Their food is already in the bag, so they don’t have to have any interaction with me at all when I’m checking them out,” he said.

Food contact surfaces should be washed and sanitized after each use, DHSS guidelines say. Disposable gloves and towels should be used for cleaning.

For laundry and other machine-washable items, using higher temperatures and complete drying cycles can help disinfect materials.

To prevent COVID-19 from spreading, DHSS recommends promoting proper hand-washing and providing other hygiene products.

DHSS also recommends supporting employees staying home if they feel sick and creating a flexible policy to allow employees to stay home.

Madison’s Cafe Owner Rob Agee said the business is complying with guidelines from the CDC and Cole County Health Department. This includes increasing the business cleaning routine to hourly, sanitizing doorways, door knobs, toilet flush valves, telephones, printers, menus and other surfaces.

The business also has a hand sanitizer dispenser near the front entrance for the public to use when entering or exiting Madison’s Cafe.

Madison’s Cafe is only accepting to-go, curbside pickup, delivery and small catering orders.

While the kitchen staff always wore gloves, Agee said, all staff members are now required to wear them, including hosts and hostesses, caterers and delivery drivers.

Caterers and delivery drivers must also wear masks, Agee said.

“Finding more masks is already becoming a problem, but we will get them somewhere, as this is just a ‘can’t hurt’ policy as stated by Dr. Fauci,” Agee said.

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