Food Safety: Your Secret Ingredient for Delighted Guests

Often-overlooked ways to make exceptional guest experiences routine at your restaurant.

Customers at a dining table in a restaurant

When most of us think about our favorite restaurants, two traits come to mind: delicious food and great service.

But for restaurant operators, making a truly memorable dining experience and earning loyal customers is a lot more complicated. At the National Restaurant Association Show in May, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion on this topic, exploring often-overlooked components of outstanding guest experiences. With inflation-conscious consumers eating out less and restaurant operators facing heightened operating costs, this conversation couldn’t be more timely.

From my perspective working at Ecolab, there are four key areas that contribute to delighted guests — even to the fundamental needs of good food and service — and all of them have food safety at their core.

“It’s essential that restaurant operators foster a culture that shows they care about the health and safety of their teams.”

Mandy Sedlak

Senior Manager Public Health & Food Safety, Ecolab

Make a Strong First Impression

From inviting outdoor spaces to clean lobbies and sparkling clean restrooms, guests have a lot to consider before they even look at a menu. And once seated, guests expect clean tables, dishes, and utensils. One recent study about restaurant first impressions suggests that 90% of people will form up to 11 opinions about a restaurant within the first 45 seconds inside.1

A first impression might be made even earlier, based on a restaurant’s website and online reviews. Reviews about cleanliness, food safety issues, or a pest sighting can have a dramatic impact on whether guests visit a restaurant at all.

Put Your People First

In an industry with high turnover, consistent, high-quality training is needed for both onboarding new employees and bringing existing staff up to speed on new protocols. A report in QSR found the amount of training employees receive to be the biggest difference between those likely to quit and those who stay. 2

Training should be readily accessible, easily understood, available in multiple languages and in an engaging format. Procedures should be simplified so employees can get tasks done quickly and get back to customer interactions. 

It’s essential that restaurant operators foster a culture that shows they care about the health and safety of their teams. Creating a positive environment for employees translates to the service they provide customers. It also helps with employee productivity and retention.

Keep Back-of-House Safety Front of Mind

A strong food safety culture ensures that food comes out of the kitchen safe, reducing the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks that can be disastrous to a restaurant’s reputation. Top factors contributing to foodborne illness include cleaning and sanitation, personal hygiene, temperature control and sick employees.

Independent assessments, like those we offer through EcoSure, can address a positive guest experience as well as help restaurants to operate safely, serve quality meals and be prepared for health department inspections. Ecolab also provides technology solutions, such as connected equipment that allows restaurant operators to monitor for issues, and data tracking that allows for more efficient use of water, energy and labour.

Evaluate Your Services

Making safety a top priority and a positive contributor to your restaurant operation and bottom line starts with thinking like a guest. Put yourself in their shoes, conduct an informal audit to evaluate your services. Listen to the customer feedback you receive, both in person and online. Create a plan to address where you’re falling short.

You can also connect with Ecolab for a more formal assessment. Our experienced, professional team can help you address cleanliness, food safety, operational efficiency, training and more. As a trusted partner at restaurants of all sizes across the globe, we’ll help to make sure your guests are delighted again and again.


  1. Source: Amelia Maria & Garg Anshul, 2016. "The first impression in a fine-dining restaurant. A study of C Restaurant in Tampere, Finland," European Journal of Tourism, Hospitality and Recreation
  2. Source: 

About the Author

Mandy Sedlak

Mandy Sedlak

Senior Manager Public Health & Food Safety

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