How to Write a Restaurant Employee Manual

Start Out On the Right Foot With New Restaurant Employees

Restaurant employee manual completing signing manual
••• StockSnap via Pixabay

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 will outline your expectations for job performance from your employees, as well as job descriptions, safety procedures, and any other communications you want to convey. Where should your employees take their grievances, if any? What's your policy for chronic tardiness? If there's ever a dispute with an employee about policies, rules, or behavior, you can pull out your handy employee manual for the correct answer.

What to Include in Your Restaurant Employee Manual

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

  • A letter of welcome
  • Performance expectations
  • Emergency procedures
  • Drug/alcohol policies
  • A safety policy

You might also want to include job-specific policies as well, such as:

  • A server policy: 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?
  • A bartender policy: This should outline the basics of the liquor standard pours, inventory, and understanding the different types of alcohol, beer, and wine that will be served. The bartender policy should also touch on opening and closing duties, how to safely serve alcohol to patrons, and how to guard against serving minors.
  • A kitchen staff policy: Along with opening and closing procedures, the kitchen portion of an employee manual should include recipe protocol, safe food handling, and cleaning responsibilities.

Additional Suggestions

You might 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—they know who and what they're working for and they're all in this boat together. But if you're just opening your doors for the first time, your mission statement should suffice and accomplish much the same thing. 

Be sure to include provisions for performance evaluations and confidentiality protocol.

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 anything in it for your employees, some nice perk or another reward for taking on additional responsibility when necessary? Include this information as well. 

This will ensure that your new hires will have a better understanding of what you do as a restaurant and how you do it when you put all these employee guidelines together in one manual.

Have New Employees Sign the Manual

Have your employees read the employee manual cover to cover and sign a release stating that they understand the terms and conditions of their employment at your restaurant. Make sure each of them has a copy to retain as well. Do this 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 put forth in the manual.

Not only will this help set clear guidelines for new and seasoned employees alike, but it will also help protect you in the event of a lawsuit or other legal action.