Restaurants across the country are starting to open their doors back up to customers who’ve been eagerly waiting for their return. As a restaurant owner or manager, you’ve probably thought through your reopening plan, from how to distance your guests appropriately to keeping your staff safe and healthy in the transition. But have you thought about the safety of your water? 

While businesses have been shut down amid the Coronavirus pandemic, there’s a chance that water has been sitting stagnant in your pipes and may be unsafe for guests and your staff. The chance of bacteria growth, including E. coli and legionella, as well as metal contaminants like iron and lead entering your water are a stong possibility, and need to be properly handled before you start accepting reservations from guests.

Whether this is your responsibility or something you will work on with your building manager, here are some tips to use as a guideline as you work together toward reopening and providing clean and safe water for cooking and drinking.

Start Planning Early

Every plan needs proper preparation. To make sure your water supply is in good condition, you’ll need ample time to perform a thorough check, as well as enough time to fix any problems that may arise. When reopening an under-occupied building, a systematic building flush should begin at least five days before your planned opening, followed by testing to ensure your water supply is safe. 

Do a Full Audit of the Property

There are many moving parts when it comes to the water in your restaurant, and you’ll need to work together with any other businesses or tenants that occupy the building as well. This includes checking the status of all domestic water and mechanical equipment, understanding the building occupants and their specific needs, and reviewing their plan to re-occupy.

Do a Risk Analysis at the Full Building Level

Testing your water is extremely important. Here is where you’ll learn if you’re on the right track to reopen and be able to provide guests with clean water. It’s crucial to understand where the concerns lie building-wide so that you can address any issues if they happen to come up before your scheduled reopening.

Consider Installing or Updating Filtration

Taking precautions never hurt anyone, especially in the service industry! At a time when there are many unknowns, taking that extra step can pay off in the long run. Installing a filter at the point of entry or point of use delivers peace of mind, as it acts as a firewall against harmful contaminants.

Keep Your Records Updated at the Building Level

Another important measure to take is to keep all records on file. Whether it’s you, someone on your team, or your building manager that is handling your water system, ask them to keep a record of everything. Flow rates, water temperatures, treatment cycles, and filter maintenance are just a few areas to target when updating your team’s water management program.

As we all prepare to find a new normal in the restaurant industry, safety always comes first. Planning, preparedness and precautions are key to ensuring that you can open up your doors to guests and resume bringing people together over delicious food and drinks.

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