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Restaurant Table with Wine Glasses Valuing the Importance of a Restaurant SOP

Restaurants, like most businesses, need Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs, to create a model of order and professionalism to display their efficiency, trustworthiness, and reliability. These SOPs may appear as a list of instructions on a wall or corkboard explaining the necessary procedures to run and maintain a restaurant. Let us explore how using a restaurant SOP can elevate an establishment’s reputation, success, and productivity.

First, let us define what an SOP is. An SOP “is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out routine operations.” Businesses use these instructions to ensure that their employees know the steps for fulfilling their assigned responsibilities. Specifically, SOPs contain instructions that indicate what the task involves and how exactly employees are expected to perform that task. SOPs help make sure that workers are on the same page about how they should handle their duties.

Now that you know what Standard Operating Procedures are, we will explain what makes a restaurant’s SOP different from other SOPs.

What is a Restaurant SOP?

Picture an untidy workstation. There might be sinks overloaded with dishes, stains in areas that should be spotless, or poor hygiene conduct from the staff. Whether it be a fast food joint or a three-star Michelin establishment, a restaurant needs SOPs to prevent unideal work conditions and stay in business. A restaurant SOP contains policies and procedures for maintaining a stable and organized establishment. These may include topics such as food safety regulations, kitchen equipment maintenance, and proper cleaning procedures.

Restaurant Standard Operating Procedures also establish systems that help to ensure the tasks involved in running a restaurant are adequately performed. A restaurant’s SOP will keep everything organized and give employees the information they need to do their jobs. Workers can reference these instructions if they are confused or need clarification about their tasks. Doing so will reduce the likelihood of mistakes being made, which could cost a restaurant its resources, customers, and reputation.

What Does a Restaurant SOP Look Like?

Generally, restaurant Standard Operating Procedures refer to documents that employees use to ensure they comply with their establishment’s standard practices. These resources should be readily available and accessible to all employees so that they may refer to them whenever necessary. Examples of places to include restaurant SOPs could be employee manuals, training modules, and physical lists of procedures for certain tasks. Whether they’re on paper or PDF, restaurant SOPs help ensure that your team knows the procedures for running operations smoothly.

When making SOPs, it’s important to follow these five essential guidelines:

  • Write for the User: Think about who will utilize these documents regularly.
  • Format Clearly: Think of ways to outline various processes and steps in easy-to-understand ways.
  • Be Mindful of Scope: Be sure to explain the purposes behind the systems you’ve created.
  • Specialize for Different Roles: Not all roles have the same duties, so be sure to keep this in mind when creating SOPs for different responsibilities.
  • Authorization and Approval: It’s important that those who will be affected by the SOPs, as well as upper management, sign off on them, This is so they acknowledge that they are aware of the SOPs and understand how they will affect the team and the business.

How Else Do Restaurant SOPs Help?

Using SOPs in your restaurant can increase your establishment’s efficiency, hygiene, and organization. Restaurant SOPs can also provide other benefits. One of these is a boost to the restaurant’s reputation and business, as people are more likely to visit a restaurant that is both operating well and in good standing to the public. By using Standard Operating Procedures in this way, even a fairly obscure restaurant can quickly become widely known for its excellent service. Furthermore, a restaurant that is a model of efficiency and organization is more likely to attract potential new employees, as people are more willing to work at a place that is organized and has good working conditions.

Using a restaurant SOP can also increase communication and cooperation between workers. When everyone on the team clearly understands their responsibilities, it becomes easier to coordinate their efforts toward completing a shared goal. Restaurant policies and procedures allow employees to optimize their workflow more smoothly and ensure that each team member is responsible for completing their own delegated tasks. These SOPs also improve the training process for new hires, who can refer to these documents for guidance whenever needed.

So… What If I Don’t Have an SOP for My Restaurant?

Without restaurant SOPs, an establishment may risk having a disorganized and inefficient workflow. This in turn can lead to poor working conditions, miscommunication between employees, unsatisfactory customer service, and, ultimately, a loss of business. To fix (and also prevent) this, restaurants can use SOPs to usher their establishment toward a more positive public standing. Accomplishing this can help a restaurant both gain customers and retain them as well.

It is also important to note that Standard Operating Procedures can ensure a restaurant’s success in staying open. Restaurants must legally have an SOP that enforces proper standards of food safety and hygiene to remain in business. These SOPs must comply with the specific mandates and details of their region’s laws. When writing a restaurant’s SOP, one must remember to check their particular region’s local laws and guidelines.

Neglecting to use SOPs can also lead to significant safety hazards. Food service workers commonly use tools like heat and sharp utensils when preparing food. Such devices can become dangerous and lead to injuries if a team member does not know how to properly use them. Furthermore, failing to use tools the correct way could also lead to concerns for a customer’s safety. For example, if an employee did not use the proper amount of heat for cooking a dish thoroughly enough, a customer may risk having food poisoning. Therefore, restaurants need SOPs to ensure both their employees and customers’ safety.

How Do I Start Writing An SOP for a Restaurant?

The first thing to do is to start drafting your restaurant’s Standard Operating Procedures as soon as possible. Having systems that help to organize your establishment’s daily operations is of utmost importance to ensure its success. Being lax about making SOPs will not bode well for customer satisfaction or your business in the long term. You can start by creating a list to organize your priorities and ensure that you have an SOP for every process involved in running your restaurant.

It would help if you also considered what your particular restaurant specializes in. This could be in terms of food preparation, customer service, recipes, and anything else you can think of. Not every restaurant performs the same services the same way, so tailor your SOPs to incorporate your restaurant’s specific practices. Additionally, take into account how your employees perform their responsibilities. Their experiences will give you better ideas of what these tasks are like, and therefore what your SOPs should include.

What Else Should I Know About Restaurant SOPs?

SOPs are useful if employees have consistent access to them. Looking at a restaurant’s SOP once is not enough to implement its instructions into a worker’s daily routine. Make sure to both document and share the instructions with your employees so they can review them whenever it is necessary. You could present this documentation in print or digitally, depending on what works best for your team’s needs. After implementing the SOPs, you should also take the time to ensure your workers understand the instructions.

While you should make your SOPs reasonably detailed and clear on how certain tasks need to be done, they do not necessarily have to be set in stone. Implementing instructions that are too strict and inflexible will make it difficult for your employees to adapt if you need to modify the SOPs. Instead, leaving some room for your employees to interpret the instructions creatively is best. You can also set aside time to regularly update your SOPs to reflect your business’s current practices. This could look like updating any physical or digital guides that you have provided your employees.

Having SOPs means that your restaurant’s product not only consists of the meals served but also the service provided. A restaurant that uses SOPs must work to provide customers with the best possible service. This means serving the food reasonably quickly, keeping the dining area clean, promptly seating customers, and more. If customers can trust that an establishment follows high standards to maintain its high quality, then they will become frequent visitors. Moreover, customers can become loyal to the restaurant’s brand and may recommend it to their peers. This in turn can result in a positive cycle of loyal, satisfied patrons bringing new customers to your business.

Who Can Help With Writing a Restaurant SOP?

If you are wondering how to write Standard Operating Procedures for your restaurant, technical writers are great resources to rely on. Technical writers specialize in both writing documents that include complicated or detailed information, and in reinterpreting them so that they are clear and understandable. These writers can create highly detailed and easy-to-understand SOPs that provide restaurant employees with procedures for fulfilling their responsibilities. If you want excellent SOPs while keeping your employees focused on their daily tasks, hiring a technical writer could be a great way to delegate making SOPs for your restaurant.

Whether you need a single technical writer for a brief project or a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation, the quality of our work is guaranteed for you. Our clients work closely with an Engagement Manager from one of our 30 local offices for the entire length of your project at no additional cost. Contact us at (800) 221-0093 or to get started.


Written by Will Boswell