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A long while ago, Humans of New York photographer Brandon Station posted this picture of a woman aggravated by a pressure cleaning company in the Financial District working at an hour where it least offends: The night.

Though this image has bugged me for a long while, it’s not Brandon’s fault. My family owns a pressure cleaning company that cleans commercial properties and businesses. Based on Long Island, the business has chain restaurant accounts scattered across the eastern coast, stretching all the way down to Virginia and up to Maine. While that’s all fine and dandy, the sad truth is, the closer you get to Manhattan, the less business we get.

That’s not so much of a problem for the company as it is New Yorkers; there are plenty of businesses that hold monthly accounts with us elsewhere. The problem, as I see it, is that NYC restaurant owners can’t dish out a few hundred dollars a month to keep their stores both looking nice and not to mention, clean. Maybe their profit margins don’t allow for it, or maybe it’s just not a concern for them.

That said, sidewalks aren’t even our main concern. It’s the kitchens that are.

I’ve seen kitchens that are cleaned every week and I still don’t wouldn’t eat there places after a day! Commercial kitchens can quickly become nightmares unless the staff is constantly hosing down the floors, picking up debris and minimizing grease spills. Even with regular maintenance, I cannot imagine what some kitchens look like when they have never been cleaned with pressure cleaners; especially in many high volume restaurants in the city.

Ironically, the strictest city in the tri-state area when it comes to sanitation ratings utilizes the company our least. We’ve never been called from a restaurant that got a “B” or lower rating hoping to clean the place up to get an “A.” Maybe we’re not marketing to the right people, or maybe New Yorkers just don’t care about whats below them.

Elsewhere, managers hire my family’s company because they actually care about how their customers perceive their stores; it’s a great way to draw customers (“Oh, this restaurant looks nice.”) On the flip side, city restaurants are likely to meet their minimum number of guests without having to worry about cleanliness because of density. If someones says “Ew, this restaurant looks nasty,” there will always be someone right behind him who doesn’t care to look down.

Written by James Brako-McComb

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