The controlled reopening of restaurants served as a beacon of hope for both owners and customers. Warm weather in Metro New York has allowed owners to generate revenue while allowing customers to return to their favorite establishments.
Although this is great news, reopening in the midst of a pandemic brings with it its own set of complications. One of the foremost among these being the acquisition and the maintenance of kitchen parts and appliances. With a focus on helping the foodservice industry, major parts dealers Parts Town and Heritage Food Service group merged last October. This union strengthens their distribution footprint, and now they are strengthening how they help the restaurant and food service community navigate pandemic-born challenges. One of the biggest challenges for business owners when it comes to appliances has been proper operation and maintenance of them in a pandemic environment.
“It all begins with the fact that operators had no idea that they were going to shut down for four months,” said Erik Koenig, VP of Strategic Marketing. “They turned off their equipment thinking they’re going to be back tomorrow, but then the state mandates came out. As you’d have it, they didn’t have the chance to shut the equipment down per manufacturer recommendations, which causes problems with the equipment in the long run.” The Parts Town/Heritage team is now providing help and consultation when it comes to cleaning the equipment, restarting it properly, and making sure it runs efficiently going forward.
Parts Town/Heritage service and dealer customers also find themselves in the proverbial crosshairs of pandemic stress.
“Being a service agent in general can be stressful,” Koenig added. “You are usually in the kitchen dealing with an unhappy customer because their equipment isn’t working. Now you’ve got the added stress of walking into an environment where you have to wear PPE, and you’re running the risk of contracting the virus. It is important whether you’re a service company or a restaurant owner to make sure your staff have been adequately re-trained to face the challenges of the current environment.”
The most important factor for the restaurant and foodservice industry now is meeting new sanitation and safety protocols. It is more important than ever for owners to promote the idea of routine cleaning, whether it’s daily or weekly, rather than just cleaning when an appliance clearly needs it.
To this end, many of the manufacturers Parts Town + Heritage work with are emphasizing self-cleaning equipment and easy-to-clean features, as well as supporting end users in their sanitizing efforts.
“With a retrained staff on-board, cleaning can be repositioned as theater,” Koenig noted. “This is the idea that you need to do everything you can, in a very transparent fashion, to instill the idea in customers that the establishment they are walking into is clean. The more that is done in front of their eyes, the more likely they are to feel comfortable dining in your establishment.”
Koenig concluded: “This prioritizing of safety and sanitation is here to stay, especially with cases on the rise again in many locations. In the past, sanitation in many restaurants amounted to just covering the basics, but this is no longer the case. “The commercial kitchen now needs to set the standard for cleanliness to ensure the safety of employees and service partners and reassure guests that they’re making a smart choice by dining with you.”
Koenig urges any who might be interested in more information on the evolving industry to check out the Parts Town website. Their website has a variety of resources regarding best practices and tips for cleaning appliances and equipment maintenance.