Just Salad, a fast-casual salad chain based in New York City, has unveiled and implemented a new safety position in response to the coronavirus pandemic – cleaning captain.
As part of the job, the cleaning captain alternates between cleaning the customer-facing areas (such as door handles and tables) and back-of-house areas (such as kitchens and interior doors) in 20- to 30-minute increments.
“The conversation with our managers was that we don’t want this to be a fad in the industry, we want this to be an actual position where we take ownership and pride in making sure our stores are safe for the guests and all of the team members who work in our stores,” said Apolinar Chavez, chief operating officer at Just Salad.
High-traffic areas are the main priority for the cleaning captain, and the first target of each 20- to 30-minute cycle is the door handle, the most-used customer touchpoint.
The captain then moves on to the dining room, which includes the five biggest contact areas, according to Chavez: the doors, the entrance to the beginning of the ordering process, the dressing station, the point-of-sale/register area, and the pick-up area shelving.
After that cycle is complete, the captain must go to the back, sanitize themselves, wash their hands, change gloves and towels before sanitizing the back of the store. That includes the refrigeration, assembly stations and other “backline” areas that customers don’t touch.
“Creating the cleaning captain position allowed our employees to take the ownership and have the feeling that they’re keeping everybody safe,” said Chavez.
The role was given to current employees and, in most cases, to the line member at the location with the highest seniority. They’ve been working in their new roles since July 6.
Any employees re-entering the staff following layoffs or furloughs have to re-train, including a walkthrough of cleaning-captain training so they “understand cleaning and sanitizing procedures,” according to Chavez.
Chavez explained that corporate leadership created a D1, or day one, committee to determine what customers and staff would need for the first day of reopening. The committee included one or two members from each department, and they worked to determine both what the guest would want to see and what team members would need to feel safe.
Chavez said there could be a future role in corporate opening up to lead these efforts and ensure safety but, for now, his team is heading up operations and sanitization.
Other than this role, Just Salad’s safety measures include mandatory masks to enter stores, triple-washing produce, routine wellness checks – including temperature checks – before shifts, and free hand sanitizer for customers. The chain has also continued and expanded its contactless ordering and payment system put in place before the pandemic began.
Here are the latest guidelines from the CDC on health and safety in a restaurant.
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