The UFE team recently reviewed the Restaurant chain, “The Cheesecake Factory.” A very busy and successful group of establishments that are approaching nearly 200 restaurants leaves you feeling that someone in the company has a firm grip on running a successful food business. The Cheesecake Factories that were reviewed were impressively busy which is great to see in this down economy.
The Cheesecake Factory when it comes to basic restaurant hygiene still has a lot to learn. As it the case with many full service restaurants these days, the patron’s silverware is present on the table neatly wrapped in a cloth napkin. Here the problem, once you open your napkin for use, where do you place the silverware? The table is not an acceptable surface to place the utensils that you will place in your mouth. At UFE we feel that if you are uncomfortable licking the table surface with your tongue then why would you place your silverware directly on it. A disposable paper place mat would be a nice addition to the tables.
On the plus side, The Cheesecake factory doesn’t have an excessive amount to condiments on the table which UFE usually finds to be a hygiene disaster.
The Restrooms at the restaurants are usually dimly lit with Dyson force warm air hand dryers. The UFE team has several problems with establishments that have warm air dryers instead of disposable paper towels.
The main problem with these force air dryers is that we see less customers washing their hand than if they had paper towels available. There is also the problem of not being able to use the paper towel to open the restroom door as you exit the restroom. Remember this is the very handle that has been touched by all the non-hand washers. That same handle that test positive for either Urine or Feces nearly 100% of the time in our UFE tests. Without paper towel there is no way to exit the restroom without putting your hands on the door handle. Observing hand washing in businesses isn’t a glamorous job but you do get to see the ingenious ways that patrons use to try avoiding touching the handle of the restroom. Grabbing the handle with toilet paper, using some type of paper in your purse, trying to open the door by using your foot, pulling your coat sleeve over your hand to prevent skin contact are the just a few of the methods we have seen to prevent direct skin contact with the dirty restroom door handle. Purposely waiting for someone else to open the restroom door is also a common restroom exit method.
The tally for the patrons exiting the Cheesecake Factory restroom without washing their hands is over 50 % for both men and women. Men were approaching 60% quite often.
The UFE observers were surprised that the wait staff that worked at the restaurant also washed their hand less than 50% of the time after using the restroom. Is it because they are in a hurry to get back to their job? Is it possible that the noisy Dyson hand dryers discourage employee hand washing?
An interesting side note occurred in the women’s restroom during one of our visits to the Cheesecake Factories. In the female restroom, someone from the wait Staff at the restaurant had just used the restroom and was exiting the stall and quickly headed to the restroom door to exit without washing her hands. Although UFE doesn’t encourage any dialogue during our restroom observations, this UFE observer quickly blurted out to the waitress, “Hey, You forgot to wash your hands!’ The Cheese cake factory employees was half way out of the restroom when she looked back at the observer and quickly responded , “Obama’s got me covered!” The UFE team doesn’t quite know what the meant but it was humorous none the less. The point here is that it is embarrassing and unsanitary that such a large group of employees failed to take the time to clean their hands after using the restroom
The UFE team is in agreement that sinks located outside the restrooms are a much better way to insure that the restaurant employee that is serving you has taken the necessary steps to sanitize their hands before returning to work.