We like to give the national restaurant chains a hard time on the Eat Salem blog, but one thing they do really well is keep a clean kitchen and dining room. When you bite into a Baja Burrito, from Baja Fresh, you don't doubt that the grill it was cooked on is scrubbed clean every night. This adds a lot of satisfaction to your meal and makes the drive all the way over to Lancaster worth while. Another place that is really clean is the new Panda Express in West Salem. When I ate there recently, I noticed that the bathroom cleaning schedule, posted on the mens room door, was updated three times before dinner. Baja Fresh seems to have at least one employee dedicated to cleaning tables and mopping floors at all times. Whenever a table is vacant at Baja, it's wiped down immediately for the next customer. Keeping a clean dining room tells me that the managers have a clean kitchen and fresh food that is cleaned properly. Part of the clean effect is in the interior design of these restaurants. The black and white color scheme gives you the feeling of being in a sterilized environment like a hospital room. My wife always says that she doesn't like to go there in the winter because it makes her feel cold. Almost like you're sitting in a refrigerator. I'm not saying that all local restaurants are dirty, but some are or at least they feel like they are. There are some things that the locals can do to achieve a cleaner feeling restaurant. One thing is to not allow tables to sit with dirty dishes on them. I never want to sit down next to a table that has someone's leftover food sitting on dirty dishes that haven't been bussed. Next, everything that a customer will touch like menu's, salt and pepper shakers, condiments, doorknobs and silverware needs to be cleaned regularly with degreaser. It's a small detail but it's one of my pet peeves. Lighting should be a priority. Make sure there are no burned out bulbs in the restaurant or on any signs. Light coming in through windows is fantastic, fluorescent lights are awful. The bathrooms are very important to keep clean. If you haven't installed touch free toilets, sinks and towel dispensers do that right away. Put a waste basket next to the bathroom door so that when I use the paper towel to open the door I can toss it out on my way back to the table. (OK, so I have issues.) We'll leave it at that and take suggestions from our readers.