New addition to eatery: Chief Sanitizing Officer The Chandler Arizonan

New addition to eatery: Chief Sanitizing Officer

New addition to eatery: Chief Sanitizing Officer

By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

In response to looming fears of the COVID-19 virus, a Chandler restaurant has beefed up its cleaning regimen by creating a position dedicated solely to sanitizing every surface of its dining room.

The Pedal Haus Brewery, which opened downtown earlier this year, has a new employee working every shift known as the restaurant’s new “Chief Sanitizing Officer.”

Once a patron leaves, the CSO rushes over to their empty table and scrubs it down with a cleaning solution, leaving behind a little sign indicating the area is ready for its next customer.

In between cleaning tables, the CSO routinely wipes down door handles, counters and any other surface subject to public exposure.

Adding these extra cleaning duties to the workload of the restaurant’s servers would have been too stressful on staff, said owner Julian Wright, so Pedal Haus decided to shuffle around its personnel.

“We were really concerned with contact points — there’s a ton in a restaurant,” he said.

The CSO idea came about during a brainstorming session that Pedal Haus staff held before reopening May 14, Wright added, and it seemed like the most logical solution to keep customers safe.

Servers, bussers and the CSO will now be interacting, Wright said, with the goal of preventing dirty dishes from touching too many hands and guarantee that tables are getting periodically cleaned.

Restaurants across Valley are making adjustments as they begin reopening their dining rooms now that they are allowed to serve patrons inside.

In lifting his stay-at-home order and allowing restaurants to open May 11, Gov. Doug Ducey releases a list of protocols restaurants should follow to keep hand-to-hand contact at a minimum.

Those protocols include screening staff for COVID-19 symptoms at the start of every shift, using disposable menus and banning shared condiment containers.

Wright said Pedal Haus is trying to follow all the recommended guidelines and is continuing to look for new ways to limit the risk of exposing customers to the COVID-19 virus.   

In addition to creating the CSO role, Pedal Haus has moved around its dining area to add more space between customers, removed some barstools and added hand-sanitizer stations.

All these changes do come at a cost to the restaurant’s ability to serve customers, since its dining room can now only seat about half its regular capacity.

Pedal Haus has also created its own custom-made face masks, Wright added, which must be worn by all staff during their shift.

The masks were designed to be a bit more fashionable then the standard medical gear that’s become a common sight during the pandemic, he said.

“We’re trying to avoid the feeling of being in a trauma center — obviously that’s not very welcoming,” Wright said.

Pedal Haus opened its first location in Tempe a few years ago and quickly became known for its unique selection of original beers. The business has won numerous dining awards, been routinely covered in the local press, and was just starting to spread its reach across the East Valley.

Its Chandler location had only been open a couple weeks before the pandemic hit in March and businesses were ordered closed.

The Chandler restaurant was shut down for almost two months, Wright said, aside from the take-out service they offered for a couple weeks.

The business managed to get some funding through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which has helped to keep its finances from dipping too far into the red.

Navigating these next couple weeks will be like walking a “tight-rope,” Wright said, since Pedal Haus needs to start generating revenue again while still being mindful of all the health concerns the public may still have.

“We’re far from being out of the woods on this thing,” he said.

Customers need to understand that restaurants are trying their best to get through this, Wright added, and should be respectful of the precautions they’ve put in place.

Pedal Haus had been in the midst of planning the opening of another location in downtown Phoenix before COVID-19, but that project has been delayed for the time being.

The upcoming summer months will probably be rough, Wright said, yet Pedal Haus is confident it can weather through this storm.

“We’re a pretty resilient bunch,” he said. “We’ll just find our way out of this one way or another.”

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