restaurant sops
by Otilia Dobos

Imagine this scenario: on a busy day at a restaurant, there is a mix-up with the food preparation and a client receives the wrong order. They are unhappy and complain to the server. What should the server do?

With no regulations in place, they may panic, and try to find a manager, all while the client only gets more upset.

This situation is quite common in food establishments, but it can easily be avoided if you set up restaurant SOPs (standard operating procedures). With set rules in place, the chances of mistaken orders almost disappear, and servers know how to immediately appease upset customers.

In this article, you will learn more about the benefits of restaurant SOPs and how to create efficient ones for your business.

What Are Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures?

Restaurant standard operating procedures are detailed guidelines that standardize all the operations that take place at your business.

They are practically step-by-step instructions everyone can refer to when they are faced with a task, be it food presentation, order handling, sanitizing the kitchen, or greeting customers.

If you have well-defined restaurant SOPs, you ensure consistency for all of your tasks, resulting in productive employees, reduced risk of errors, and increased customer satisfaction.

The Benefits of Restaurant SOPs

While setting up procedures for all processes at your restaurant may seem like a lot of effort, the improvement you will notice immediately after you implement it will be worth it. Check out the benefits of using restaurant standard operating procedures:

1. Achieve consistent results

Consistency is key to a restaurant’s long-term success. If one day you deliver a client the perfect steak, but the next day he orders it again and it is undercooked, you will surely lose him as a customer.

Restaurant SOPs ensure that every employee knows what they must do, how they must do it, and when they should do it. This way, you maintain an elevated level of quality throughout your organization.

2. More efficient workflow

With no rules, you will have employees wondering what to do in certain situations and risk making mistakes. The benefit of restaurant standard operating procedures is that they eliminate guesswork.

Because you have systemized processes in place, everyone works efficiently with more productivity and a smaller chance for errors.

3. Fast and easy onboarding for employees

All new employees must go through training before they start their jobs. However, the manager or staff member responsible for their instruction is only human and may miss important details.

With restaurant SOPs, new team members will have detailed documents that teach them how to be the best at their jobs. Moreover, as all knowledge is written down, you won’t lose essential information when an employee leaves the business.

4. Ensure compliance with regulations

A surprise visit from the authorities can lead to big fines and even closure if you aren’t following all your local regulations related to food establishments.

If you establish restaurant SOPs that align with the food and health laws in your area, you will ensure that your restaurant complies with regulatory requirements at any given moment.

5. Enhanced customer satisfaction

With restaurant SOPs, customers will receive delicious food every time, prepared in the same way, and they will enjoy consistently pleasant interactions with all your employees.

Because they appreciate the overall great experience that doesn’t change no matter how many times they visit, they will become loyal customers and recommend your restaurant to others.

Restaurant SOP Checklist

Look over this restaurant’s standard operating procedures to get a better idea of the framework you will have to create for your business and the areas you must include in your instructions:

1. Facility and equipment restaurant SOPs

With these SOPs, you establish how people handle the business’s physical assets, from the dishwasher, counters, and cooking machines to tables and serving surfaces. You should include:

  • How to properly clean and sanitize all pieces of equipment
  • How to take care of the dining area
  • Who is responsible for pest control and what measures are in place for it
  • What is the dishwashing process

Restaurant SOP example for dishwashing

  • There is an area designated for cleaning, with a space for storing the dirty dishes, an area for washing, and an area for storing the clean dishes
  • Dishes used by diners will be taken directly from the table to the storage area for dirty dishes
  • Each dish or utensil that has been used in the kitchen and is no longer in use must be immediately taken to the storage area for dirty dishes
  • The person responsible for washing dishes must announce when they are taking a break
  • There must be no contamination between the dirty dishes and the clean ones
  • Only the provided cleaning equipment should come in contact with the dishes
  • The cleaning equipment should only be kept in the designated area
  • If any of the cleaning products run out, the person responsible for dishwashing must inform the manager

2. Staff and training restaurant SOPs

Did you know that employees are responsible for 40% of food-borne illnesses in restaurants? Creating restaurant SOPs will help you prevent any unfortunate situations by giving guidelines regarding personal hygiene, health, and interactions.

Here is what you should not miss:

  • How to wash hands and when to do it
  • How to use gloves and how often you should change them
  • What are the standards of hygiene you expect
  • What is the uniform and how often it should be washed
  • Who they should go to if they encounter any type of problem

Restaurant standard operating procedure example for glove use:

  • Wash and dry your hands before putting on gloves
  • Hold gloves by the edge before putting them on
  • After you put gloves on, check for any tears
  • Change the gloves if they become dirty or torn
  • Change gloves after handling raw meat, poultry, or seafood
  • Change gloves every four hours
  • Change gloves if you handle any food allergen if you are preparing allergy-safe food

3. Food handling and preparation restaurant SOPs

You will need SOPs to ensure you maintain a consistent quality for all food items and safely handle the food to prevent getting clients sick. You should cover:

  • How to store ingredients
  • How to store prepared items
  • How to maintain the freezer and refrigerator
  • How to handle the food deliveries
  • How to deal with food waste
  • How to compartmentalize the counter space
  • How to prepare each dish and handle every ingredient that goes into it

Restaurant SOP example for storing ingredients:

  • Each ingredient must be stored in a separate container
  • Each container must be labeled with the date it was placed in storage and the expiry date
  • All the meat, poultry, and fish will be stored in covered and sealed containers, only on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator
  • Items that expire shortly should always be stored at the front of the refrigerator

4. Order-taking restaurant SOPs

Taking online orders is a must if you want to increase your sales. To ensure you have a streamlined online ordering process, you need an efficient online ordering system and some well-thought restaurant standard operating procedures. You should incorporate:

  • How fast an online order should be accepted
  • What is the process from receiving an order to getting it to the kitchen, to preparing the order and handing it to the delivery person
  • What is the time frame for preparing an online order
  • What is the packaging that must be used for online orders
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Restaurant SOP example for packaging online orders:

  • All packaging items will be stored in the designated area
  • Hot menu items should only be placed in the containers labeled with blue
  • Liquid menu items must be placed in the containers labeled with red
  • Every order must contain a flyer with 5% off the next order
  • Every order must have cutlery and napkins

5. Customer interaction restaurant SOPs

It can be hard for new employees to know how to handle different types of clients. They could benefit from SOPs that will guide them through all the restaurant’s processes. You must include:

  • How to great and seat clients
  • What is the attitude expected from employees when interacting with customers
  • What to do when a client complains about the dishes
  • What to do when the client has an unsavory attitude
  • How to upsell menu items

Restaurant standard operating procedure example for greeting guests:

  • The customer must be greeted as soon as they step into the restaurant
  • The employee responsible must smile, make eye contact, and ask them how big the client’s party is immediately after the welcome
  • Guide clients to their table and offer them a menu
  • Let them know about the promotions and specials that are available

Tips on Creating Your Restaurant’s Standard Operating Procedures

While the restaurant SOPs checklist is a great starting point, you should personalize all your procedures to the way your business runs.

1. Start by identifying all the tasks at your restaurant

In order to create efficient SOPs, you must first identify all the tasks at your restaurant that would benefit from them. For example, food preparation, service, cleaning, inventory management, etc.

Once you have a general overview of all tasks, it will be easier to create documentation with step-by-step instructions for each one.

2. Use easy-to-understand language

Each procedure should be detailed but must be written in an easy-to-understand language so employees don’t have to spend a long time figuring out what was meant by each point.

You could use bullet points, so the procedure resembles a checklist. This way, when a staff member completes a task, they can just ensure they completed every point.

3. Offer training to familiarize employees with restaurant SOPs­­

You’ve done the work of writing a complete manual full of restaurant standard operating procedures. Now it is time to make employees aware of their existence.

Hold regular trainings where you teach staff about the procedure, what is new, and why they are necessary. Team members will be more open to them if they understand how the rules help them and the restaurant.

4. Put in place a system to monitor compliance

The SOPs only work if everybody obeys them. Therefore, at the end of every training, have a little test to ensure everybody understands their responsibilities.

You can also perform regular audits to notice if employees follow the procedures.

5. Update the SOPs regularly

In the restaurant industry, you need to be open to change if you want to succeed long term. Your SOPs should follow suit. Each time a new task is introduced, ensure you create a procedure for it.

Don’t forget to also schedule a small training to make the new procedure known.

Final Words

Restaurant SOPs can be a great help for every business in the food industry. If you create efficient processes, you get to enjoy a seamless operation, more productive employees, and increased client satisfaction.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Otilia Dobos
Otilia Dobos

Otilia Dobos prides herself on well-documented, easy to understand and SEO-optimized content, both short and long form.