Back Bar Cleaning Checklist: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO STAY UP-TO-CODE
In the United States, bars and restaurants are a big industry.
According to data collected by Statista, sales in bars and taverns have risen steadily. In 2015, 23.15 billion dollars were brought into the drinking place sector. More broadly, the National Restaurant Association estimated food and drink sales reached around 783 billion dollars in 2016.
However, as a restaurant or bar owner or manager, you cannot take American consumer habits for granted. For every bar that is packed with eager customers every night, there is a struggling eatery that is preparing to close their doors to business.
Cleanliness is one of the easiest ways to garner customer loyalty and ensure that business is steady. That’s why we’re putting together this authoritative guide on how to clean your back bar. Using a bar cleaning checklist, we will help you develop a cleaning schedule for your restaurant bar, discuss the best way to implement glass washing systems and ensure that you are adhering to restaurant cleanliness regulations and best practices.
So, join us as we explore everything you need to know to stay up-to-code through a regular cleaning schedule for your bar.
Cleaning to be Done Throughout the Day
Some tasks are important enough that they need to be done regularly throughout the day. Whether you want to instruct employees to simply do these tasks as a reflex or add them as a shift-based cleaning schedule for your restaurant, they need to be regularly addressed.
1. Wipe down the bar:
Good restaurateurs and bar owners put a lot of work into their bars. Whether aged wood or gleaming granite, a bar’s surface is an important statement about the kind of establishment, you are running.
You need to be constantly paying attention to the condition of your bar surface, wiping it down whenever needed. Make sure that you have a clean wash rag with sanitizer available at all time behind the bar.
2. Take out the trash regularly:
The pace of bartending can change unexpectedly -- what started as a slow day can shift when the bar is suddenly slammed.
Taking out the trash regularly rather than letting it pile up throughout a shift is a good way to handle an unexpected pace change. While a 3/4 full trash can may not seem like an immediate concern, you don’t want to get caught in the middle of a rush with an overflowing waste basket.
Similarly, make sure you are breaking down boxes and other large items whenever you have a free moment. Again, you don’t want to wait until it needs to be done because that need might occur in a moment when you have waiting customers who need service.
3. Clean glass washing systems:
To keep up with the pace of drink service, bartenders have long relied on washing systems for bars. A high-temperature glass washer, like our award-winning solution, is an essential tool designed specifically to ensure that barware is clean and spotless every time you serve a drink.
In addition, many bars have individual glass washers installed just behind the bar so that bartenders can make sure that a glass is thoroughly clean.
Because such equipment is essential for serving the perfect drink, you need to make sure it gets the attention it deserves throughout your service and daily cleaning routine.
Many of these systems include water tanks to make hot water readily available. Regularly throughout the day, you need to make sure that the water is changed.
In addition, any sanitizing water that you keep behind the bar needs to be changed regularly.
End of Day Bar Cleaning Tasks
These are tasks that should be completed nightly as part of your closing routine. By doing the jobs at night, you ensure that employees can come in and get right to work when they arrive the next day.
1. Sweep behind the bar:
While you want to be doing spot cleanings as needed throughout the day, every night you need to have the back bar thoroughly swept, making sure to get under any appliances.
2. Empty and sanitize ice bins:
The ice bin or ice well is a crucial part of any bar set up. They allow you to quickly serve iced drinks and sodas without having to walk away from the bar. High-quality commercial ice chests like ours are designed to be high efficiency and low maintenance.
However, perhaps because they are so well designed, ice wells are commonly overlooked, yet crucial, when preparing a cleaning schedule for your bar. While you should have food safety protocols in place to limit contamination of your ice wells, their constant use in bar service means you also need to work hard to make sure that any potential contamination is addressed daily.
You can only accomplish this by completely emptying your ice wells every night and making sure that you give the inside of the well the same sanitizer treatment that you would any other bar implement.
3. Place floor mats in the dish washer:
Your floor mats are designed to withstand high powered and high-temperature dish washers. At the end of every shift, after the dishes have been washed, you should run a wash cycle on your floor mats as well.
Do this after you have swept and removed any debris from your mats. This will help to make sure that pests don’t try and invade your restaurant or back bar over night when the place is closed.
4. Wipe down bottles in the speed wells:
While you will likely display your top shelf booze on a shelf behind the bar, most bartenders like keeping their well liquors in a speed well where they can be quickly added to commonly served cocktails. Because this serving space is designed for speed, many bartenders are less careful with these bottles. Small spills and drips that might be seen as costly when coming out of a top-shelf bottle are often ignored during busy service of well drinks.
That means you need to wipe down the bottles at the end of the night. Sugary liqueurs are especially prone to a sticky residue. Because customers expect that their drinks will be served in a clean environment, you need to pay attention to the optics of serving every drink out of a clean bottle.
If you are using replaceable drink nozzles or bottle toppers, you should also take this time to make sure that they are clean. If you can, remove them and run them through the dishwasher.
5. Clean the speed rails:
While you have the well bottles out, you should also take the time to clean the well or speed rails, depending on the design. If you are using one of our basic speed rails, this is a quick job, as the rail is designed out of stainless steel.
Although somewhat more involved, the job of cleaning a speed well is made easier if the service station is well designed. Our all-in-one service stations are designed to be broken down quickly and easily so that nightly cleaning is a snap.
6. Clean soda guns:
You also need to be regularly cleaning and checking your soda guns. Because soda guns are serving many sugary drinks, they can get dirty pretty quickly. Furthermore, a poorly cleaned soda gun nozzle can negatively influence the flavor of the drinks you are serving.
You also want to clean the nozzle holder. Because soda guns tend to drip a little when they’re in the holder, that sugary residue can get sticky and gross, especially if left overnight. It’s a simple and quick job, but it can have a big impact on your work if you neglect it.
7. Clean and empty the garnish tray:
A good garnish tray is essential for drink service. For high-end cocktails, the presentation is important. Furthermore, if you are a bar that specializes in mixology, customers are likely to be eager to watch your bartenders prepare their drink.
At the end of the night, make sure to either store or throw away any garnishes that haven’t been used. Next, run your garnish tray through the dishwasher and replace it so that it is ready for service the next day.
8. Clean any back bar food service solutions:
Not every back bar includes food service solutions. However, in some places, deep fryers and steam tables are part of the presentation.
If you have a deep fryer, you need to check the oil nightly, either replacing it or filtering. You also need to wash the baskets and whip down and clean the area around the fryer. This is crucial, as oil build up becomes exponentially harder to clean if it is left overnight.
If you have steam tables, you also need to make sure that they are drained and cleaned. Make sure to use sanitizing solution and then replace the water so that you are prepared for next day service.
9. Refill non-perishable disposables:
Many bars have napkins, stirrers, straws and toothpicks available for those sitting at the bar. You want to make sure that these service trays are clean and refilled.
There are some deeper cleaning tasks that don’t need to be done daily, but do need to be regularly scheduled. Many restaurants opt to add these items to their Sunday closing check lists.
1. Empty and clean reach-in coolers:
Reach-in coolers are used to store items that are often served but are perishable. Emptying and cleaning your cooler, therefore, serves two important purposes.
First, it lets you inspect all of the items that you have stored in there. They should have a prominently displayed freshness date. If it is time to remove those items from use, do so.
It also gives you a chance to wipe and sanitize the interior of your reach in cooler. Like your speed rail, small spills will build up over time. Getting in there and giving it a good clean is essential or you will soon have bigger problems on your hands.
Luckily, there are excellent stainless steel coolers, like ours, that are designed to be easy to access and, therefore, easy to clean.
2. Clean behind movable equipment:
Depending on how your service and storage equipment is installed, you may be able to move it and do a thorough cleaning behind it. This is a great way to address any hidden issues that may be attracting critters or otherwise hurting the cleanliness of your bar. Furthermore, grease buildup, if the equipment is near the deep fryer, can become a fire hazard if left untouched for an extended period of time.
Obviously, a good server isn’t going to be constantly spilling things behind equipment, but unfortunately, in a high-paced environment, the occasional spill or accident may go unaddressed in the moment. Put cleaning behind equipment into your weekly schedule so that you are sure to take care of a problem that may otherwise be forgotten and remain unseen.
3. Remove glassware and display bottles and clean shelves:
If you have a well-tended bar, you won’t need to remove and replace the bottles and glassware on display behind the bar every day. However, you should be doing this weekly or bi-weekly. You don’t want to pull out a specialty glass for a high-end drink only to find that that the rim is dusty or sticky.
4. Investigate bug prevention measures:
Hopefully, if you are doing everything else right, your insect and pest prevention measures will go unused. However, as a backup, they are important.
You need to put inspection of these preventative measures into your weekly schedule. If you’re doing well with all your other back bar cleaning checklist items, this will be a quick job that will just require a cursory visual inspection. However, even clean bars occasionally have a problem, and you want to catch it as soon as possible. A weekly inspection will ensure that someone doesn’t go unnoticed for too long.
5. Clean keg lines:
Different bars have different methods for making sure that their beer lines connecting kegs to taps are clean. However, regardless of how you do it, you need to do it regularly and sufficiently.
Because beers, especially more experimental craft beers, have a lot of yeast, the residue left in keg lines can quickly become a breeding ground for other microbes that will influence the quality of your beer.
While some beer specialty bars are sure to clear their lines with a solution followed by warm water every time they change a keg, you need to clean and flush your keg lines at least weekly. It’s a relatively easy job, but it has a big impact on the quality of your beer service.
Count On Perlick for Your Beer BAr Refrigeration & Dispensing Solutions
We offer a wide range of beer service solutions, catering to bars of every size. While there are common keg line cleaning techniques across all of them, there are also specifics that you need to pay attention to. Make sure to follow manufacturer cleaning recommendations, regardless of which solution you have installed in your bar.
Regardless of whether you are operating a 100 tap system or a hole-in-the-wall bar known only to locals, having a back bar cleaning checklist is a crucial best practice for keeping customers happy and loyal. Cleaning only gets easier with the right bar service solutions.
If you want to explore the best in bar service solutions, contact Perlick today!