Creating a Successful Strategy for the Often Overlooked Trade in Your Restaurant

Article contributed by Mike Berman, COO, Day & Nite/All Service

It’s often overlooked but plumbing plays a crucial role in the operation of a successful restaurant, serving as the backbone of the establishment’s infrastructure.

Sure, your restaurant might have a clean kitchen sink and restrooms but there truly is so much more. A well-functioning plumbing system ensures the smooth functioning of various essential operations within the restaurant.

Think about all the touch points in which plumbing is crucial to the success of a restaurant operation. Firstly, it is responsible for the delivery of clean and potable water, which is indispensable for food preparation, cooking, and beverage service. Additionally, plumbing facilitates efficient food disposal, preventing the accumulation of waste and maintaining a hygienic environment. Proper drainage systems are essential for the smooth flow of wastewater, preventing potential blockages or unpleasant odors that could negatively impact the dining experience. Moreover, plumbing also supports the operation of dishwashers, ice machines, and other vital equipment, ensuring they function effectively.

At Day & Nite as we work with our customer base up and down the Eastern Seaboard, we often find that plumbing is overlooked but restaurant and foodservice operators. As with so many things, the Pandemic changed how vital plumbing is to restaurants/foodservice operation. Although it was never unimportant, from a front-of-the-house perspective in the Covid era attention to hygiene detail now ranks as one of the most crucial customer experience categories. Operational hygiene is no less important. Next to fire, water on the floor is as catastrophic for a commercial foodservice establishment as it gets. Clearly, well maintained plumbing beats emergency repairing any day of the week.

Yet in this past summer of extreme weather, I submit there’s an even higher order: sustainability. Disgusting as they are, grease traps are pretty much serviced today as last century—hoses draped across a floor pumping some of the nastiest waste into a truck. Just as environmentally sound solutions clean up huge oil land and water oil spills, restaurants that are serious about a healthier planet are wise to adopt these safer, more ecologically sound solutions. 

Our advice is to update your plumbing strategy by creating a new punch list. It will guide you to solutions for a well-functioning plumbing system for overall operations and to protect your restaurant’s reputation.

The mission is proactive prevention more than concerned attention when there is a problem. This is achieved by first qualifying a professional organization you can trust and then taking that trusted partner’s advice—transcending a punch list. It can be said plumbing is one of the oldest forms of technology, it’s so common and standardized it’s easy to forget just how delicate and fickle commercial plumbing systems can be.

I think there are many times when definitions of “water” and “plumbing” get confused. Let’s go back and ask the most basic of questions: how is the water supplied to the restaurant? The most basic question deserves the most basic answer: pipes. But even this most basic thing can be taken for granted. Age and design are major factors. Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago lead pipes dominated! Water pressure, subject to change without your notice is at least as great a factor especially because dishwasher temperature is largely a reflection of consistent water pressure.

With that, we suggest to our Day & Nite clients add a “punch list” for the maintenance water distribution pipes. Instead of water distribution, permit me to return to grease trap management—something we all prefer to not think about. If, during this hot and wet summer 2023 you noticed many flies, bugs and other vermin congregating around your grease traps it’s the most visible sign your grease traps need far greater, likely immediate regular maintenance attention. Make sure that your plan includes inspection of water pressure regularly. Also get help from your service provider on local ordinances that impact the disposing of wastewater.

There are also a number of pitfalls that create potential clogging issues in a restaurant drain system. The uninitiated would be shocked to learn how many rubber gloves are retrieved deep from sink drains, how many solids are creating toxic grease trap stews, how often things one may not see conspire for the catastrophic. We’ve also worked diligently to create measures that can prevent foul smells from drains. I urge all check out our Popular Plumbing’s division’s environmentally sound, enzyme-based methodologies.

We find ourselves continually responding to grease traps maintenance issues. The frequency of cleaning really depends on the grease trap size and scope of operation, but when grease traps are treated with enzyme solutions, they are in perpetual cleansing motion. Supplemented by a general monthly check by your team, the rule of thumb is that whatever common grease trap problems will evaporate.

After decades of helping our Day & Nite/Popular Plumbing customers Implement best practices restroom facilities and toilets maintenance, we want to share our take. We believe it really starts in the design and purpose of your restrooms. Customized fancy components are attractive but tend to pose the biggest performance and maintenance problems. We find the simpler the design the easier it is for monitoring and maintaining restroom cleanliness.

Our bottom line is that if you are looking for shortcut service hacks that can minimize expenses, we warn you to proceed with caution. But when it comes to all things water and plumbing from leaks to water supply interruptions in the kitchen you need to rely on expertise. When it comes to water DIY/Do-It-Yourself is a most dangerous practice. Part of the barrier to doing the work yourself is that water pressure is often the most overlooked problem.

Once you’ve made that commitment to finding the right plumbing vendor, how do you proceed? Look, servicing critical equipment is a skilled trade. There has been a significant shortage of skilled labor for decades. Getting a complete picture of a service provider’s commitment to ongoing skills training, professional development is as fundamental as it gets. Service providers fully committed to investment in staff have the integrity you can trust in a partner.

We hope that you will give us a look in your selection process. The Day & Nite family of companies, inclusive Popular Plumbing is an innovator propelled by a continuous improvement imperative fully focused on delivering consistently superior, cost-effective customer experiences by bully integrating and strengthening each vital leg of the essential 3-legged stool: People – Process – Technology

Ultimately, an efficient plumbing system is instrumental in upholding high standards of sanitation, hygiene, and customer satisfaction in a thriving restaurant. Let us know how we can help.