There are two important things to do before you open your restaurant for the day and then after the last customers have left: prepare the restaurant for opening and close the restaurant when the dust settles.

Open and close are busy times. Checklists for opening and closing ensure that tasks essential to maintaining cleanliness, food security, and smooth service at each shift are completed. Lists are easy to use and inexpensive to create. They are used widely across the industry.

What does an opening and closing checklist consist of?

The restaurant opening and closure checklist is a list that employees are required to complete at the beginning or end of their workday. These checklists can be printed out or submitted electronically via a computer, tablet, or smartphone. The team members working the opening and closing hours check off tasks on the list as they are completed.

Restaurants create checklists for opening and closing that are specific to the team responsible for each task (FOH, BOH, and management). The space and closing team is not responsible for completing each task but for ensuring that someone else has.

Why use restaurant opening and closure checklists?

To run a successful restaurant, all members of the team must work together to achieve a common goal. When there are many people working and many tasks to be completed, it is easy for even the most obvious of tasks to be overlooked. Checklists allow staff to ensure that no job is forgotten, regardless of how small.

A systematic approach to completing tasks is beneficial for you, your employees, your customers, and your bottom line. These are the main benefits of having an opening and closing checklist for your restaurant.

  • Improve accountability: When employees sign off tasks at the beginning and end of every day, they can be held accountable if they are not completed. You can assign each task to multiple people or have one person complete each checklist. They will then sign their initials beside each completed job. This way, you know exactly who is responsible for each job. If you notice the bar is never restocked after Jack closes his business, you may need to refresh Jack’s memory on how to count inventory and supply.
  • Improve Food Safety: Cleaning and sanitizing your restaurant is important for the health and safety of your staff and guests. Violations of health and safety may result in fines and failed inspections. They can also damage your reputation. You could cause an outbreak of foodborne illnesses in the worst-case scenario. It’s hard to recover from this. Operators must ensure that their employees follow the best cleaning practices in order to protect them and those they serve.
  • Reduce operational costs. An important part of closing down a restaurant is to turn off the lights and reduce the heating or air conditioning. This simple task significantly reduces utility bills. This duty will be completed more often if it is included in the checklist for closing a restaurant. Your restaurant will save money by reducing its gas and electric use.
  • Fire and theft prevention: Another important task to complete before closing is locking up the kitchen, arming your security system, and turning off all appliances. Staff and customers could be put in danger by a break-in, and a fire could lead to astronomical expenses and the end of the business. These tasks will be more likely to occur when they are on the checklist for restaurant closing. This increases security and minimizes risks.

Here are a few of the reasons why restaurant checklists for opening and closing are so important. Include the lists within the employee manual to ensure that your employees always have access.

Four Tips for Implementing Restaurant Opening and Closing Checklists

Are you ready to implement checklists for opening and closing your restaurant? How to execute opening and closing checklists in your restaurant is easy.

  1. Brainstorm tasks. You need to first think of the functions you want on your checklists. You can copy and paste our examples and ask your FOH or BOH staff what they believe should be on the list. Their insights are invaluable because they’re on the ground and have first-hand knowledge.
  2. Create your restaurant checklists. After you have gathered all the information you need, you can create an easy two-column list in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. The staff can mark off completed tasks or initial them as they are done and then date and sign the checklist once it is complete. Create separate lists for the opening and closing shifts of each team (BOHs, FOHs, and management).
  3. Share your expectations with your team. If you have never used checklists in your restaurant, we recommend that you announce them to your team at a meeting of all staff or through your team’s communication tools. Tell your team how to use them and what you expect from them.
  4. Keep everything organized and easily accessible. Keep copies of checklists in a binder at the office or an appropriate area for each function. The host stand is for FOH, the kitchen entrance is for BOH, and the office is for managers. Create a checklist on your iPad Notes app and share it with the person responsible for each task.

Follow these simple four steps to create an opening and closing checklist protocol.

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