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Restaurant Training Checklists: Make Sure You Have Them

Long Bistro ApronHow important is training in the food service industry?  So you’ve set up your restaurant business – planned your layout, purchased your equipments, prepared all your legal papers, conceptualized your menu and hired your staff.  You have actually been operating for a while and are already getting a number of customers.  Have you made sure that your food servers, kitchen workers, busboys and receptionists are trained?  Is the training sufficient that would enable your restaurant to function competently and professionally with minimum supervision?

I’ve come across an article which emphasized the importance of restaurant training checklists in the professionalism of a food establishment.  The write-up stressed the importance of education and knowledge to make things work efficiently in a restaurant.  While education is needed to familiarize the employees with the operations of the restaurant, such method of training usually takes time before it becomes stored knowledge. Knowledge rolls up when things have been learned and retained, which is not easy to accomplish with just a few short training sessions.  After a while, your staff forgets about the things he learned at training.

Part of your employees’ training is educating them about their basic responsibilities — busboys need to know how to greet their guests when they go to their table, how to clear, reset and maintain tables, serve food, refill beverages and clean spills.  Your restaurant hosts need to know the right ways how to answer the phone, seat your guests and maintain the podium.  The apron-clad food servers take the customers’ orders, serve food and drinks, prepare your guests’ itemized checks, and accept payments.  The specific duties of these jobs vary depending on your restaurant’s rules, but however different these rules are, such information are quite easy to retain.

But there are specific details in the restaurant business that can’t be relied on memory.  You are really required to come up with restaurant training checklists that need to be posted throughout the place to achieve the professionalized look you need.   A few important examples are the following:

Plating pictures. We should realize that consistency in plating is a must.  Your food items should come out to the guests exactly how the chef created it.  Photos of each menu item, including appetizers, entrées, desserts or salads should be strategically placed on a board and tagged close to the plating station.

Dessert plating. Come up with dessert pictures, especially for your daily specials.  Define the right amount of ingredients for each dessert, like whipped cream or ice cream.

Recipes for coffee and serving of tea. Recipes for your coffee drinks should be meticulously marked-out, as well as the way you serve your tea – do you serve one bag or a selection?  Do you use a pot of hot water in serving it or just a cup?

Opening and closing checklists. All restaurants, even the smallest ones, should have their opening and closing checklists.    From the most trivial of things like turning on the lights, checking emails and voice messages to the unlocking of the employees’ entrance door, to the most important ones – checking that all refrigerators and freezers are properly working, double checking of inventory levels and verifying the daily food specials   with the chef, these things should all be laid out in detail to lessen any room for error.   Just as important, your closing checklist should be mapped out in detail, too.  A detailed closing procedure allows you to conserve on a number of things and saves your establishment from undue accidents.

Server station arrangement. Your dining room’s regular pattern breaks when your server station is not well arranged.  Set up a system that ensures a well-organized server post that never runs out of coffee cups, water pitchers, saucers, pens and other items.

Bar set-up. Bar customers are often impatient for their drinks. Keep a detailed inventory of just how many limes, olives, lemons are required to be sliced, diced and kept in the bar.  A written record of your bar’s fruit and juice rotation should be handy at all times, especially when the bartender fails to show up and an apron-wearing waiter is forced to stand in.

Cooler Plan. Design and designate your cooler shelf space, making sure that your stocks go to its right places (e.g. raw chicken goes to the top shelf, not on the bottom).  This allows you to manage your frozen stocks appropriately as well as lessen risks of any health department violations. Inventory checklists posted on the cooler are just as indispensable.