Your Restaurant Is Amazing (To Pests)

pests flies restaurant

As a fourth-generation Bronx resident and lifelong New Yorker, I have a long-standing appreciation for how important restaurants are to our city. Working with hundreds of restaurants in the Tri-State area, I’ve been privileged to have countless amazing experiences while dining out — none more so than meeting the extraordinary woman who would become my wife in a restaurant across from my office!

Restaurants are special places where so much vital human activity happens. From chance meetings to business meetings, from quiet lunches to boisterous parties with hundreds of guests, restaurants are an essential part of what makes New York the city it is.

Everyone loves restaurants

Unfortunately, the things you and I love about New York restaurants are the very ones that make them appealing to pests — but we don’t have to be hospitable to them. There are basic measures every restaurant operator can take to make their space less desirable to the creepy crawlies we don’t want patronizing our establishment.

Know what your (unwanted) guests want

As a pest management professional, I’ve learned to think like a pest. When I inspect a restaurant I ask myself, “If I were a mouse or roach, where would I hide? If I were a fruit fly, what would I be drawn to?”

One of the best ways to think like a pest is to remember the pest pyramid: “Water, food, harborage.” Just like us, pests come to a restaurant looking for a place to get a drink, grab a bite to eat, and hang out for a while. And when pests have gotten successful at doing this in a restaurant (a situation we term an “infestation”), it’s because we’ve made it too easy for them.

Keep it dry

Have you ever wondered why they’re called water bugs? Pests are looking for moisture, and not just in your drains or sinks. Is there standing water, or a missing tile on the floor? When you mop, does moisture gather where the floor meets the wall? These are all invitations for pests to come in and have a good time.

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Consider a floor fan for behind the bar after hours. Try having your team use a dry mop behind a wet mop to minimize standing water. And tie up those hoses behind the bar so wetness dissipates fast. If your restaurant is a place where pests can find moisture, you can be sure they’ll keep coming back for more.

Keep it high

I bet you thought I was going to say, “keep it clean.” But I’ve never had a restaurant tell me anything other than, “We’re clean.” Everyone thinks their standards for cleaning are high, but they can always be higher.

How often do you schedule a deep cleaning? When was the last time you moved the boxes or equipment away from that wall to see what’s going on back there? Is there an infrequently used storage room? Sounds like a VIP section for pests! Keep your cleanliness standards high.

Keep it tight

For years I’ve used the term “true perimeter of the restaurant” to indicate the most thorough measure of your space that is vulnerable to infestation. Going through your restaurant from A to Z searching for and sealing up potential entry points is the key to making sure pests don’t get in and make themselves comfortable.

Sometimes these entry points can be as plain as the front door, while others might be out of sight but be brand new, such as recent plumbing or electrical work. Have your team go A to Z around your restaurant to keep your true perimeter tight. Pretend you’re an unwanted guest and see where you could find your next meal.

By being less amazing for pests, you can focus on being amazing for your guests.

Dr. Joel R. Grassi is an Accounts Manager at BHB Pest Elimination. He is certified Bed Bug Specialist and a NYS licensed applicator. If you would like him to provide you with a complimentary assessment of your restaurant as it relates to pest management, please contact him at 212-242-3383 or