Check Out the New Anti-Covid Gadgets Popping Up in Restaurant Dining Rooms

The latest in the battle against germs.

Virus-killing light

You’ve probably seen the plexiglass partitions and QR-code menus at local restaurants. But dining rooms are also getting tech-savvy with new devices for monitoring safety and ensuring cleanliness. Here are a few pandemic-era additions you might encounter.

Germicidal Ultraviolet-C Lighting

The owners of Silver Diner and the more upscale Silver dropped half a million dollars to install air-filtration-and-purification systems across their 20 area locations. Among the upgrades are virus-killing ultraviolet lights—which are integrated into both the HVAC system and the handheld sterilizers that staff use in high-touch areas. Every night at 2 am, the dining rooms and kitchens are further bathed in the germicidal light.

Handwashing Scanner

College Park catering company La Prima Food Group is among the first in the region to use a PathSpot scanner—the Big Brother of handwashing. After members of the kitchen staff scrub up, they plug in ID codes and scan their hands. If the device detects salmonella, norovirus, or other food-borne contaminants using its light-based spectroscopy, a red “stop” sign pops up. It also tracks exactly how often any cook is washing his or her hands.

Tabletop Air-Purification Boxes

During a recent doctor visit, Seoulspice owner Eric Shin noticed people gravitating toward the fancy air-filtration boxes in the lobby. So, he thought, why not put one at every table of his Tenleytown and NoMa fast-casual restaurants, which have transformed into Korean barbecue spots during the pandemic? The purifiers use medical-grade HEPA filters to help remove airborne particles.

Fogging Machines

They might look straight out of Ghostbusters, but the white-coat-clad “desinfectadors” at Penn Quarter’s Cuba Libre are actually carrying virus-killing “foggers.” The cleaning staff uses the devices to spray a coat of disinfectant on any surface that guests might touch.

Thermal Temperature Scanner

The new Mount Vernon Triangle Persian restaurant Rumi’s Kitchen has upgraded routine temperature checks. Diners will encounter contact-free facial thermal scanners from Temperature Check, a startup created by a DC-based event producer. Just stare at yourself on the screen near the door and your temperature appears. Anyone with a reading above 100.4 degrees is denied entry.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.