Henrico diner adds UV lighting to counter coronavirus: ‘All restaurants should be doing this’

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A local restaurant chain is going beyond the mask and sanitizer to make customers feel safe dining inside.

Ultraviolet light can zap bacteria viruses, including the coronavirus. Hospitals have been using UV lighting for years. Now the Silver Diner chain is reinventing the restaurant model, adding ultraviolet germicidal lights to its dining rooms.

“You know gloves and masks are just not enough anymore,” says Ype Von Hengst, Executive Chef and co-founder of Silver Diner.

Inside Silver Diner at Innsbrook in Henrico County, air purifiers using ultraviolet germicidal lighting can be found throughout the restaurant

Inside Silver Diner at Innsbrook in Henrico County, air purifiers using ultraviolet germicidal lighting can be found throughout the restaurant

“We really want to get our guests coming back into the building and not just sit outside,” Von Hengst said. He had air purification systems using UV lighting, air ionization and HEPA filtration installed in all 20 Silver Diner locations in Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey, in an effort to counter COVID-19.

“We are the first ones in the United States that are using these three systems together to really enhance the safety of our associates, our managers and of course, our guests that come in,” Von Hengst added.

Chris Rawlings, of Richmond based Veteran LED, did the work. Speaking with 8News, he points to a unit mounted on the wall and explained, “So this unit right here is an air purifier, so it uses UV light and HEPA filtration to purify roughly 200 square feet.”

Rawlings even installed UV lighting into the HVAC system, “so as that air is flowing through the system, it is sanitizing and disinfecting the air,” he added.

Over the kitchen where orders come and go, hangs a heavy-duty germicidal UV-C light for those high touch areas. UV light can be harmful to humans, so it only comes on at night when the restaurant is closed and the staff is home. “So they are on a time clock from 2 to 3 a.m.,” says Rawlings.

Over the kitchen where orders come and go at Silver Diner, hangs a heavy-duty germicidal UV-C light for those high touch areas.

Customer Janine Ratcliff was pleasantly surprised by the air purification system. She says it makes her feel comfortable eating inside and she told 8News she will definitely be back.

“You know I think it shows compassion for not only the clientele coming in to eat but the employees that are here too,” Ratcliff said.

The diner has installed plexiglass dividers between its booths and they’re using menus printed on anti-microbial paper that is cleaned after every use.

“I think all restaurants should be doing this soon,” Von Hengst added.

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