Restaurants produce their own micro climates of smells and fragrances. Last Sunday I stopped into a small local grocery store. Although their deli was in full swing, the smells wafting through the air were offensively stale. I left without purchasing anything.
Two days earlier I sat on the patio of a local Crepevine Restaurant, ordered lunch and was eventually chased away by fumes spewing out of the sewer grate located in the center of the patio.
The essence of a restaurant is often defined by its sapidity. While walking from the front door to the back door of any restaurant, a trained nose experiences a variety of seasonings that either tease taste buds or turn off the desire to sample a simple morsel.
Think about it. The sourness of an old linen bag, the staleness of a dirty bathroom, the steamy mustiness of a dishwashing station forcefully mingle with the gusto of a garlic sauce and the sweetness of a cheesecake. The contradictory conflict may only be noticed by a fresh nose that has not spent hours, days and weeks in the closed environment of a restaurant.
There isn’t a bartender in the industry who has not walked into a bar with a soured sink drain because the bar back forget to clean out the dump sink filled with squeezed limes, lemons and smashed Mariciano Cherries.
Dirty mop closets emit a zest, zing and a wallop that few delicate noses could endure before noon. These are all micro climates that cause confusion with the aromas of a well seasoned kitchen.
Before the weekend arrives, take some steps to rid your restaurant of offensive aromas. Look in those dark, dank corners where mold may linger and build. Check under the bar sinks: A lemon that casually rolled off the bar, down the sloping floor, and settled on the floor drain can be anything but sweet after a month’s gone by.
Danny Lavezzo, a gracious New York City saloon-keep great, whose family owned P.J. Clarke’s for over 50 years, used to ice down the urinals in his men’s room nightly. They still practice that form of aroma control today. It works wonders in a bathroom that should have been re-plumbed years ago.
Christopher Ranch garlic has done more for the aromas of a restaurant than the owners of the company will ever know. Every morning my chefs open the doors of the restaurant. Then, they would take a large frying pan, heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil and fry ten crushed cloves of garlic. When the fumes were at their peak, they would walk through the dining room, the dish station, the back bar, and the bathrooms. The smell was sweet, the air was fresh and it left a scent of professionalism that lingered long enough to tease luncheon taste-buds.
Fresh, enticing micro aromas flowing through a well seasoned restaurant makes the atmosphere more inviting.