Flatware and Customer Germaphobia

Posted by Patrick Maness +


Some people look at the world and see little more than germs — filthy, festering germs — on doorknobs, tables, sheets and in the air. To them, the whole world is simply a Petri dish breeding germs.

Chances are some of these people have visited your restaurant and put your servers through the demanding ringer of their exacting sanitary demands. In many cases, no matter how clean your flatware or glasses, they’ll insist that colonies of germs are crawling before them. Seen or unseen, justified or delusional, there are a number of germaphobes bringing their own flatware with them when they go out to eat.

Now, in many cases, this is a classic “it’s not me, it’s you” situation. Everything is perfectly clean, in fact, but good luck convincing the customer of this. In these cases, there are a few things you can do to increase the “appearance” of cleanliness and accommodate guests who are particularly concerned about germs.

  1. Don’t place flatware on the table — If a guest has a problem with flatware placed directly on the table, they probably have images of busboys using dirty rags dripping with bathroom water to clean them. Save for an operating table before surgery, tables are never as clean as a clean napkin. Always place flatware on a napkin.
  2. Roll flatware in a fully enclosed cloth — Going off the previous tip, simply rolling restaurant flatware in a napkin is a way to avoid anything touching that germ-filled table. This can bring peace of mind to many customers.
  3. Keep a supply of plastic or disposable flatware on hand — Some people are skeptical about the capacity of modern industrial dishwashers to fully clean and sanitize anything. In these cases, they might ask for plastic flatware.

It’s worth noting that if enough people seem paranoid about the cleanliness of your flatware, there might be a real problem. In this case, you need to review your equipment, employee practices and flatware cleaning protocol.

If it is the customer who’s making an extravagant request, don’t roll your eyes. Hospitality is the name of the game, and it's your duty to accommodate a whole range of quirks and idiosyncrasies.  

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