I am put way off my feed in small sandwich shops with just one person behind the counter when that person moves seamlessly between sandwich prep and money changing duties without as much as wiping their hands! I´ve walked out of many without ordering what actually looks like it might be a decent sandwich. I know food margins are small, but one-use plastic gloves are cheap. What´s the answer to this ever-occurring dilemma?
Hungry for Cleanliness
Hygiene training is at best, slipshod in many small food operations. The make-the-sandwich, touch-the-money procedure happens more frequently as profits decrease and owners look at ways to cut costs. A reason large chains are prospering and small individual owners struggle, is due to the time and money corporations spend on intense training programs specifically dealing with public hygiene practices. A clean restaurant with a professional staff will succeed while others won´t.
Nothing is more of an appetite suppressant than watching the sandwich makers run their hands through their lengthy strands of greasy hair before spreading the mayo on a BLT. Yet, it happens all the time.
Employee hygiene practices continue to be a growing problem in the industry. Training is the only solution. In addition, customer comments should be encouraged by owners. I seldom fulfill a sandwich need in an eatery where a face toucher has become a cook. I always bring it to the attention of the owner or manager.
Corporations such as Starbucks, Cheesecake Factory, PF Chang and other culinary conglomerates spend hours teaching the art of hygiene practices. A friend worked for a major chain years ago. A job requirement was a weeklong training class on hygiene. He entered the class as a face touching student. Each time his hand touched his face throughout the class the instructor stopped the class and asked the student to leave for a short period. My friend was broken of the habit.
Yesterday morning I had the misfortune of sitting at the counter at a Santa Rosa, California breakfast spot known for fabulous morning fare. Big mistake on my part. Greeted with a few moves that are not in your Become a Fry Cook Overnight Handbook, I was immediately skeptical of feeding my desire for a Sunday morning breakfast.
First, five pieces of thickly sliced bread were emerged in eggs that were also being used for omelets and scrambles. The breadcrumb omelet is not yet on the menu. I imagine it will be as soon as the owner notices all those crumbs in the bottom of the eggs. Secondly, when the grill cook flipped the freshly cooked bacon onto a cardboard egg holder used to keep eggs in the case from breaking, I knew it best to have the oatmeal. Thankfully, it was of the microwave instant variety.
Small operators need to pay more attention to what the customer sees. It pays to walk on the customer´s side of the counter occasionally – it´s a view that sometimes isn´t very pretty.