Recently I went out to eat at a very popular restaurant. I knew it was popular, because we waited over an hour for a table. Restaurants should avoid having their patrons wait this long, because it gives them time to look around and think.
I watched group after group of diners as they were shown to tables and handed menus. I watched as tables were cleared, wiped down, and menus collected and brought back. I saw one guy looking through his menu who coughed on it as I watched. And that got me to thinking…are menus ever cleaned?
Menus are handled by one person after another, by one server after another, and I have never, ever seen menus being cleaned. Silverware and dinnerware is washed after every use, and it would be unthinkable to reuse something. But menus…menus are touched and touched and touched, and heaven only knows what organisms live on them.
So, I decided to do a Google search on menu cleanliness. I found entry after entry describing gross scenes that have been witnessed by patrons in restaurants, such as seeing a woman sneeze into her menu and set it aside. I looked up cleaning lists for keeping restaurants ‘spic and span’. Out of the many items on these lists, menus are not mentioned. In fact the only mention of menus on these lists is contained in the “Main Menu” on the web pages.
It’s too late today, but tomorrow I’m calling the health department…I’m wondering if they have menu cleanliness guidelines.
Just imagine the viruses and bacteria that must be on menus! Does everyone handling a restaurant menu always wash their hands after using a rest room? I seriously doubt it. Is everyone perfectly healthy? Not possible.
I know I’ll never look at a restaurant menu the same way again. Fortunately, on the night that I made this realization, G2 had a bottle of Purell with her. As soon as we finished with the menu, we cleaned our hands.
More on this later. I'm not naming the restaurant, btw, because I would not want to single them out. I've eaten in a lot of restaurants, and I can't think of even one time that I've seen menus being cleaned or even wiped off between uses.