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The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry has been devastating for many business owners. Among the hardest hit has been the restaurant industry. Many establishments had to operate at half capacity, while others had to shut down completely. After 18 months, many restaurants are reopening and ready to serve the public again. But restaurant owners across the country are facing another obstacle: labor shortages.

While many workers have reasons why they chose not to return to the restaurant industry, business owners must prepare for those who are ready for work. Training will be the key to getting restaurants back on track, especially during COVID-19. If you are a new business owner or a restaurant manager looking to improve the onboarding and training process during these unprecedented times, here are some tips on how to prepare a training manual built for success.

What Is a Restaurant Training Manual?

A restaurant training manual educates employees on your establishment’s rules, regulations, and guidelines. Primarily, this document instructs new and existing staff members on how standard procedures and processes should be performed to ensure the restaurant’s success. Training manuals can include a wide range of information, from the restaurant’s mission to service standards, onboarding new hires, software and systems, safety protocols, employee conduct, and so much more. The purpose of this document is to provide structure and organization so the restaurant can maintain consistent operations.

How to Prepare for a Restaurant Training Manual

Preparing a restaurant training manual is an ongoing process. It requires constant attention to improving procedures already in place and enforcing solutions to future problems that may affect restaurant operations. Remember that a training manual is a technical document for those new to the restaurant business. So, it must be helpful to, and understood by, your entire team. Otherwise, your staff will underperform, resulting in miscommunications, confusion, and failure to meet business goals. When creating a training manual, keep in mind how you will structure the document and the content you will put in it. First, let’s start with the structure.


To communicate effectively, use language that is simple to follow. The information you are providing must be clear and concise. Employees are more receptive to performing tasks correctly if the directions are easy to follow. Also, it’s best to use an active voice to avoid confusing the reader. Refrain from overwhelming users with too much information. Make sure you are direct and straight to the point. 

Documentation Format 

A training manual should have a natural flow so it’s easy to digest. Knowing basic document types and style guides will help with the sequence of your manual. Elements like section summaries, white space, and headings can easily guide a worker through the manual.


Sometimes, the best way to describe something is to provide a visual. Visualizations can get the job done if there is too much information or you are trying to convey something complex. There may be a time when you are at a loss for words, so using a video, image, illustration, graphic, screenshots, flowcharts, diagram, or table will suffice.


Identifying your audience will help you determine the best training solutions. How you will address and train a workforce of millennials may differ from a staff that may be older or a culturally diverse staff. For example, selecting training tools with a younger work staff may be interactive and take on a more eLearning approach. Understand your audience to determine whether knowledge-based articles, online training courses, digital platforms, or the employee handbook best suit their training needs.

Data Collection 

Getting feedback from your team will help you understand whether the procedures and processes you have in place work or if they are a hindrance. For instance, how you onboard a new hire pre-COVID-19 may differ from how you do so now. You may even do a better job now because of the feedback from other team members. Proper data collection allows you to scale and improve future training manuals as your business grows. Data collection may include questionnaires, surveys, interviews, and other methods. 

If you have an idea of how you want your training manual to be but don’t know how to create it, get help from a technical writer. They are trained to develop and produce training material and various other documentation. With the assistance of one, you can have your training manual ready for all the new applicants waiting to work at your restaurant. 

What Should Be Included in a Restaurant Training Manual?

Now that you know how to structure a training manual, let’s discuss its content. Topics may vary depending on the type of restaurant you have. However, here are some common topics to address in your training manual

Brand Mission & Values 

This should explain the past, present, and future of your brand. This will include your origin story, mission statement, core values, principles you believe in, and future goals for the restaurant. You want your new hires and existing members to understand what they are working towards. Some businesses may be providing a place of community and southern hospitality in a metropolitan area. In contrast, others deliver a unique experience of Caribbean and South Korean-infused dishes or serve Mediterranean-style cuisines using fresh ingredients to promote a healthier lifestyle in low-income neighborhoods. For some establishments, new employees should understand they will work for a business that values community service. This may be supplying meals to people experiencing homelessness or to food banks. By expressing this information during training, you establish the culture you want and expect from new employees.

Restaurant Policies & Procedures 

This code of conduct outlines the day-to-day operations, so your restaurant can run smoothly. All employees must follow these rules to ensure your business stays compliant and to achieve overall success.

  • Orientation
  • HR Policies
  • Payroll 
  • Dress Code 
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Work Hours & Schedules
  • Drugs and Alcohol Consumption
  • Employee Evaluations & Complaints
  • Benefits: Vacation, Sick Days, Insurance, etc. 

Service Standards – Your training manual should address how you plan to conduct customer service, food preparation, and production. Every detail is essential, from greeting guests to properly storing food or handling customers with allergies. This document should also instruct employees on interacting in various situations and more. This section of your manual must be thorough; here is a brief list of what service standards may include:

  • Cash handling procedures
  • Restaurant layout
  • Customer or employee complaints
  • Menu training
  • Preparations of poultry, beef, pork, produce, eggs
  • Handling of special events
  • Customer interaction
  • Server Etiquette

Onboarding Procedures 

Communicate the process of preparing a new staff member for their job position. State whether this training program involves training tools or online courses. Indicate whether there is a mentorship requirement where new workers must shadow an experienced colleague. State how long the training will take place. Also, in your manual, how will they be assessed based on mock scenarios? Whatever procedure you may have for onboarding and training new hires, explain the importance of the task, encourage your employees to ask questions for clarification, and keep it simple.

Employees Responsibilities 

Everyone plays a part in the daily operation of a restaurant. Each position will require a training manual geared to their responsibilities and skills. While everyone will have a universal manual to refer to, the training manual for a bartender will be different from one for a host or sous chef. 

Food Safety & Hygiene 

The health of the customer must be a top priority. To keep your guests safe and avoid any illnesses, address the rules and regulations of handwashing, cooking temperatures, equipment, health inspections, cross-contamination, food preparation protection, storage, and other sanitation practices.

Safety & Emergency Protocols

In the event of an emergency, you must prepare your team to respond accordingly to unexpected occurrences throughout the restaurant. What is your strategic plan if a fire breaks out in the kitchen or an employee slips and falls? Your manual should indicate the protocol and the instructions to handle these situations.


New employees will need to know the point-of-sale system (POS) commonly used to track sales and other transactions in the restaurant industry, in addition to other apps, devices, and software systems they are supposed to learn. A manual will help guide them as new software is introduced in the business, along with the rules about social media.

Compliance Laws

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and other regulatory agencies have standardized laws to protect the rights of employees as well as the services they provide. Every new team member must become familiar with the rules of their industry. A training manual should keep employees updated on the latest rules and regulations to be always compliant.

Post-COVID-19 Restaurant Training

Recently, COVID-19 has forced many businesses in the restaurant industry into uncharted territory. Now, restaurants must find new ways to serve their customers while remaining safe with the latest COVID-19 protocol. In today’s training manual, to help your staff keep up with the COVID-19 demands, you must include the following:

  • Restaurant Cleaning – Determine the best method to clean and sanitize your restaurant for every shift. Ensure you have adequate supplies, from hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, masks, gloves, surface spray cleaners, and other tools to keep employees and customers safe.
  • Hygiene Etiquette – Develop and enforce rules on how to handle food, how to dispose of garbage, how long to wash their hands, and cleaning habits.
  • Surveillance – Closely monitor and update workers on the latest federal, state, and local guidelines. As guidelines continue to change, restaurants must be ready to enforce the new laws and regulations to remain compliant. Always keep customers and workers informed.
  • New Technology – Select new interactive methods that allow customers to get service still but lessen the time and interaction with employees, i.e., contactless QR code ordering.
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 – Prepare and train your workers to identify symptoms of the virus and the appropriate action to take should they get infected.


Whether you have been in the business for two months or twenty years, a training manual is essential for a restaurant to operate smoothly. Your most experienced employee or a new hire relies on this document to help guide them through the ins and outs of the restaurant business. While creating one may require a lot of time and effort, a training manual is an invaluable document a business owner cannot operate without.

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 Kimberly Jones