How to Write a Restaurant Employee Manual

a woman sitting at a table inside a restaurant
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Creating and circulating an employee manual can be a good idea whether your restaurant is new or you've been in operation for a while. A good restaurant employee manual outlines your expectations for job performance, as well as job descriptions, safety procedures, and anything else you want to convey.

Where should your employees take any grievances? What's your policy for chronic tardiness? If there's a dispute with an employee about policies, rules, or behavior, you can refer to your employee manual.

What to Include

Most employee manuals include standard information for new hires, whether the business is a restaurant or another type of enterprise. Examples include: 

  • Welcome letter
  • Performance expectations
  • Human resources information
  • Emergency procedures
  • Drug/alcohol policies
  • Safety policies

It might also be a good idea to include job-specific policies, such as:

  • Server policies: What are your standard dining room procedures, including those for opening and closing? What side work are servers responsible for? What is the cash policy? Do servers keep a bank? Will they pool tips?
  • Bartender policies: Should outline the basics of the liquor standard pours, inventory, and understanding the different types of liquor, beer, and wine that will be served. The bartender policy should also cover any state alcohol laws, and touch on opening and closing duties, how to safely serve alcohol to patrons, and how to guard against serving minors.
  • Kitchen staff policies: Along with opening and closing procedures, the kitchen portion of an employee manual should include recipe protocol, safe food handling, and cleaning responsibilities.

Additional Ideas

Consider including your restaurant's mission statement, if you have one, so all of your employees are familiar with it. Providing a history of your company can be a nice touch, too, and it can promote a sense of cohesiveness and solidarity among management and staff. But if you're just opening your doors for the first time, your mission statement should suffice. 

Be sure to include provisions for performance evaluations and confidentiality protocols. Think about including provisions for cross-training as well. Training employees to do multiple jobs can be extremely helpful in restaurants, which often have high turnover rates. If you decide to do this, will there be some reward for taking on additional responsibility when necessary? 

Anything you include in your manual will ensure that new hires better understand what you do as a restaurant and how you do it, and a great manual can cut down on training time, so aim for a detailed, comprehensive manual.

Employee Manual Policies

Require your employees to read the employee manual cover-to-cover and sign a release stating that they understand the terms and conditions of their employment. Give each of them a copy to retain as well, before letting any new hire start on the floor or in the back of the house. Their signatures should acknowledge that they have read, and are willing to follow, the rules and regulations detailed in the manual.

Not only does this help set clear guidelines for new and seasoned employees alike, but it also helps protect you in the event of any legal action.