Though friendly germs far exceed the bad guys, better safe than sorry is the predominant approach of FEC food service departments to avoiding any possibility of the spread of infectious disease-causing germs hanging around on surfaces. Reliance on hand-washing is not an option. Thoroughness in cleaning strategies is the only one and every facility has its most reliable cleaning products and methods of keeping an eye on the whole operation, including where guests are eating.
Watchfulness is the overarching strategy at iPlay America and Encore Event Center FEC, Freehold, N.J., said Food and Beverages Manager Jason DelliSanti. “It basically comes down to being visually aware of the surroundings, of people dining and constantly cleaning surfaces and sweeping floors. Food service staff use a variety of cleaning products, each that corresponds to the surface area to be cleaned and appropriate to the back and front of the house. In addition, hand sanitizers are placed at the entry to the park.
The good thing about iPlay, said DelliSanti, is that throughout the park, whether picnic or patio style, whether the frozen yogurt area, restaurant or park, each has strategic seating to sit and eat. Alternatively, guests are provided with takeout products and containers to transfer their food and carry out.
In the operation of iPlay America and Encore Event Center, which he owns and founded, Bob McDaid, charts cleanliness and safety as top priority, which he said, go hand in hand. “If the appearance of an establishment is clean and neat, it will be well organized and well run. If you can’t even keep the walls clean, how can you expect the food area to be clean?”
McDaid does not put much credence in the messy desk as a sign of intelligence belief. As a real estate developer, he believes that each design of a new space is intended to expand cleanliness or the ability to clean it easily. “If it’s not easy, it’s hard to get it done. Every element of an interior is considered from the height of surfaces from the floor to the spacing of trim to the right size alleyway for the right cleaning equipment to fit through. It’s more economical to think about cleanliness up front, especially in food and beverage.”
Cleanliness is more than a protective measure for guests. Gary Foley, chief operating officer at iPlay America and Encore Event Center, noted, “We assure the overall cleanliness and appearance behind the scenes and on the floor because it adds to the guests’ experience besides getting a great product. In the context of the family entertainment industry, we’ve raised the bar on how we operate within our food service area. It’s superior and we get comments that support that and cleaning is a high priority.”
Like any FEC facility, Skate Country, Tucson, Ariz., gets the frequently regular once over by the County HealtFECh Department, and Skate Country employees attend the prescribed training sessions. Staff numbers, said owner Bob Snellstrom, are over and above what would be typical in an entertainment center such as Skate Country. “We’re well-staffed with extra employees, which allows them to address spills as they are also serving customers. The strategy is to prevent spills and yet get on them immediately when they do happen and not let them linger.”
Constant policing by staff and announcements over the Public Address system covering the 25,000-square-foot building premises occur the entire time the facility is open, to remind guests to corral their eating activities within the snack bar area, said Snellstrom, “We’re well staffed and go one on one when we see anyone breaking the rules. Most that do are new customers, so we’re patient and lenient with them.”
In some facilities, restricting where food is eaten isn’t an option, as at family owned Rollero Family Skating Park in Phoenix, Ariz., though curtailing germs from spreading is. “The method is to use the perfect mix of bleach and water,” according to owner and operator Michael Jiles.
The policy of where to eat at Mount Asia Family Fun Center in Houston, Texas, is not strict either, said General Manager Cody Lawrence, and more closely monitored is customers bringing in outside food.
Since the guests’ movements are random, the onus is on the employees to go around and clean up after them, said Lawrence. “Popcorn and ICEE spills are frequent and staff cleans up after them immediately.”
A disinfectant dispenser bottle is available for use, though more efficient and quick is to have a small bucket of a bleach and water solution and a rag to quickly wipe the area down in a hurry, affirmed Lawrence.
Without a dedicated restaurant area, as bowlers at Palace Lanes, Houston, Texas, take food from the cafe window, they’re encouraged to take it to where they are enjoying their bowling experience, said Manager David Jay. “Employees are in constant motion, going throughout the facility wiping down the table top area, sweeping, checking for spills as they watch over the customers going through with their food and beverages, treating the general area just like a restaurant. They are constantly aware of what is going on in the food service area, in the cafe and in the prep area. They have to make sure the prep area is always clean, wiping down after every sandwich prep and pizza prep. We make sure the staff is constantly aware of what they’re cooking and that they take all the proper precautions.”
Spills happen, and in the bowling business, especially requiring special shoes, keeping the floor clean and dry is important, as well as the table tops behind the lanes, where cups and food are placed. Jay affirmed, “We make an effort to keep the floor constantly clean because as one customer leaves another comes along behind them.”
It’s all there in black and white, an opening, closing and weekly checklist that tells workers exactly what’s expected for them to do to keep clean the food preparation, serving and dining areas at Funtracker Family Amusement Parks, Corpus Cristi, Texas. “Anything omitted is not tolerated,” said Restaurant Manager Deena Werneck, “And we show the kids exactly how to do it properly.”
Part of the hostess job is to inform guests about eating in the concrete floor areas rather than carpeted, and when exiting the restaurant, not to eat or drink in the arcade area. To reinforce these efforts, signage posts the rules in the arcade and party rooms.
On an hourly basis, the eating area at Funtasticks Family Fun Park, Tucson, Ariz., as a rotation of diners finish their meals, food service workers are right behind them, cleaning the table tops, counters, floors, and prep area with either bleach or a sanitizer containing cleaning chemicals from Swisher Hygiene, their contracted supplier. Signage in the arcade area alerts customers that bringing food in is prohibited. In the event that signs are unnoticed or unheeded, food-bearers are reminded verbally.
Monitoring where guests eat can be challenging for staff at Brunswick Camino Seco Bowl in Tucson, Ariz., because certain areas of the facility are acceptable for taking food into and others are not, said Food and Beverage Manager Mike Ambrosio. “Those same employees have a bucket of clean sanitizer on hand at all times to use as much as possible, and every few hours they change the water solution.”
Favorite Cleaning Products from FECs
ProForce® Lemon Fresh Disinfectant
Cleaner available at Sam’s Club
Cintas products and services
EZ Floor for clean floors in high traffic areas
Degreasers to eradicate grease build up
The perfect mix of bleach and water