Restaurant SOP: Meaning, types, templates, & best practices 

All restaurant owners love it when their restaurants are crowded, isn’t it? Let’s say it is Christmas Eve and many customers are visiting your restaurant. Suddenly, one of your kitchen staff members informs you that key ingredients for preparing the day’s special dish are out of stock! You have multiple orders for that dish. Two customers have already complained about delayed food delivery! How do you tackle this panic? What if we tell you all of this could have been prevented? How? Enter restaurant SOPs!

This blog will cover everything you need to know about restaurant standard operating procedures. 

  • What are restaurant SOPs?
  • Benefits of restaurant SOPs
  • Types of SOPs for restaurants 
  • How to write SOPs for restaurants 
  • Restaurant SOP templates 

What are restaurant standard operating procedures (SOPs)? 

restaurant sop

Just imagine: You arrive at your restaurant one day and notice that some of your staff members are performing functions that they are not supposed to do. Your server is in the kitchen and is trying to assist the chef in preparing some dishes. Your outlet manager is serving food to customers. The tables are not clean. Sounds pretty chaotic, right? Here comes SOP. Think of Standard Operating Procedures as in-depth, written instructions for your restaurant. They are designed to help you enable uniformity concerning specific functions within your restaurant. Restaurant SOPs cover several activities. You craft them to define how your food should be prepared, how your customers should be served, what cleaning guidelines your staff members should follow, safety practices, and more. 

Here’s an example to help you understand better: You can design an SOP for “Closing Your Restaurant.” Wondering what would it include? Well, you will have to cover several critical steps. You will have to craft guidelines like:

  • Please lock all the doors before you head out home.
  • Make sure to turn off all lights.
  • Clean all the tables and seating areas, & more.

Benefits of restaurant SOPs

  • Employee onboarding becomes simpler, more streamlined with SOPs

When new hires join your restaurant, they might get confused by the variety of tasks they need to perform. How do you ensure that they feel comfortable in their new role? The answer is SOP. Having detailed SOPs provides them with clear, step-by-step instructions for each task and improves their learning curve.

  • Team communication is transparent 

With standard operating procedures, you can facilitate transparent communication within your team. Everyone knows what needs to be done and how to do it. A restaurant SOP ensures that all your team members are on the same page. For instance, if you design an SOP for special events, you can break down guidelines on how exclusive VIP guests should be treated during special events.

  • You can identify your weak service areas with restaurant

When you regularly review SOPs, you can spot areas where performance is lacking or where guidelines are not being followed correctly. Let’s say your customer provides feedback that he/she is disappointed by your slow service times. You can review the SOPs for kitchen operations and food delivery. You will have to identify what is causing the delay and make the necessary adjustments to enable timely food delivery.

  • Customer service gets optimized 

When your entire staff follows well-defined procedures, customers receive the same level of service every time they visit. This consistency helps build trust and loyalty. Here’s an example to help you get a quick understanding: An SOP for handling customer complaints ensures that all staff members respond to issues promptly and professionally. This turns potential negative experiences into positive ones.

  • Employee productivity enhances 

With standardized procedures, your employees can work more responsibly and focus on their core responsibilities. For instance, you design an SOP for inventory management. You want your inventory workflow to be smooth. How to ensure this? You can define standards that require a few staff members to check ingredient stocks every 4 hours. How will this help? There will be less chance that you run out of stocks. Also, other staff members will not have to worry about this and can focus on their own key tasks.

Types of SOPs for restaurants

  • Personal hygiene SOPs

Personal hygiene SOPs are focused on maintaining health standards and ensuring that all staff members adhere to strict hygiene practices. How? The personal hygiene SOP that you create for your restaurant can include guidelines like:

– Please wash your hands before serving food to customers.

– Cover your head, and wear caps while preparing food.

– Wear the restaurant-branded t-shirts to work

  • Food handling SOPs 

These SOPs cover different processes like – how you store food, how is the food prepared, and how the food will be served. Your SOP  could also outline critical guidelines like:

– how to store food items that are more prone to get decayed

– how to keep liquid items separate from other food items to prevent issues like cross-contamination.

Let’s say there’s a new staff member in your restaurant. He or she can learn to follow the SOPs for receiving deliveries. The standard operation procedure would include checking the temperature of perishable goods upon arrival and ensuring they are immediately stored in the appropriate refrigeration units

  • Communication SOPs 

They provide guidelines on how staff should interact with each other and with customers. You might want to include the following in your communication SOPs:

– Receive orders politely from customers, do not argue unnecessarily.

– Smile while greeting customers.

– Stay calm when any complaint comes. Be a good listener and try to understand what is causing trouble to the customer.

  • Equipment SOPs 

Equipment standard operating procedures are important to ensure all staff members use, clean, and maintain restaurant equipment properly. Let’s say you have an SOP for your dishwasher. It might include steps for daily cleaning, regular maintenance checks, and more. 

  • Menu creation SOPs 

Menu creation SOPs help develop and update your restaurant’s menu. Your SOPs might include a critical step like:

– Develop new recipes keeping in mind the target audience. For example: Use stevia or other natural sweeteners to prepare desserts for customers who are looking for sugar-free food options.

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How to develop SOPs for restaurants – Best Practices 

  • Keep an eye out for industry best practices

The first step to creating your restaurant SOP is research. The idea is to incorporate industry best practices into your SOPs. Look for resources from industry associations, attend workshops, and benchmark successful restaurants in your area. You might learn about new sanitation methods that enhance food safety or innovative customer service techniques that improve guest satisfaction. 

  • Focus on employee training 

Remember, SOPs are only effective if your team understands them. Invest in comprehensive training programs for new and existing staff. Let’s say you introduce a new SOP for handling food allergies. Your training sessions should clearly explain the importance of allergen awareness, demonstrate how to check ingredient lists, and show the proper way to communicate with customers about their dietary needs.

  • Define  core processes 

Jot down the key operations that are central to your restaurant’s functioning. Some of them might be food preparation, order taking, cleaning, and customer service. You now have to break these down into detailed steps to ensure nothing is overlooked. Example: Your food preparation SOP might include steps like ingredient selection, portion control, cooking techniques, and plating standards. 

  • Build your SOP manual/checklist 

Creating an SOP is not enough! You need to compile your SOP into a well-organized manual or checklist. This document should be accessible and easy to navigate and should allow all the employees to quickly find the procedures they need. Use clear headings, bullet points, and visual aids like flow charts or diagrams to enhance understanding. If you have a checklist for opening the restaurant, you should include tasks such as unlocking doors, preparing the kitchen, and others.

  • Get team review/feedback 

Your SOPs should not feel like a rulebook! Involve your team in the SOP development process. Seek their input and feedback. Employees who perform the daily tasks can offer valuable insights into the practicality and effectiveness of the procedures. Once you are done with drafting an SOP for inventory management, ask your kitchen staff to review it and suggest improvements based on their experience. This collaborative approach ensures that your SOPs are realistic and tailored to your restaurant’s specific needs.

  • Update regularly  

It’s right said – Change is the only constant! Regularly updating your SOPs is crucial to keeping them relevant and effective.  Schedule periodic reviews of your SOP manual to identify areas that need revisions. If new health and safety guidelines are introduced, you need to make sure that you update your sanitation procedures. 

restaurant sop

What is a restaurant SOP template?

A restaurant SOP template is a pre-designed document that summarizes the standardized procedures for various tasks and operations within a restaurant. The template serves as your guide to ensure that all staff members follow the same procedures. This, in turn, helps maintain consistency and quality across all aspects of your restaurant’s operations.

Restaurant SOP Templates: Examples

  • Restaurant operations checklist 

This covers all daily activities required to run your restaurant smoothly. This includes tasks like monitoring inventory, checking equipment functionality, and ensuring that the dining area is set up correctly. 

  • Food hygiene checklist 

Your food hygiene checklist should include procedures for proper food storage, handling, cooking, and cleaning. This helps ensure that all food is safe to consume and that your kitchen meets health standards.

  • Restaurant opening & closing checklist 

The opening and closing checklist ensures that the restaurant starts the day ready for service and ends the day clean and secure. This includes tasks like setting up dining areas, prepping ingredients, and performing end-of-day cleaning.

An opening checklist might include turning on all kitchen equipment, setting tables, and preparing the cash register. A closing checklist would cover tasks like cleaning the kitchen, securing all food storage areas, and locking up.

Know’s Restaurant SOP management solution

  • Restaurant manager checklist 

This includes overseeing staff, managing inventory, handling customer complaints, and ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations. Daily tasks might include staff briefings, monitoring service quality, and reviewing sales reports. Weekly tasks could involve inventory management and scheduling.

  • Employee dress code checklist 

A dress code checklist ensures that all staff members maintain a professional appearance. This typically includes guidelines on uniforms, grooming standards, and personal hygiene. Specify uniform requirements, such as clean aprons and name tags, and grooming standards like neat hair and so on. 

  • Hotel security checklist 

Your security checklist should include tasks like checking locks, monitoring security cameras, and ensuring all entry points are secure.  A nightly security routine might include verifying that all doors are locked, reviewing camera footage, and ensuring all alarms are set.

  • Customer satisfaction checklist 

This checklist should cover all touchpoints of the customer experience, ensuring a high level of service. Tasks could include checking on guests during their meals, ensuring orders are accurate, and following up on feedback.

  • Kitchen hygiene checklist 

This includes sanitizing surfaces, cleaning equipment, and proper waste disposal. Daily tasks might involve wiping down surfaces, washing utensils, and emptying trash bins. 

  • Bar checklist 

This includes tasks like stocking supplies, cleaning equipment, and ensuring proper liquor storage. Daily tasks might involve restocking glasses, cleaning the bar area, and ensuring all beverages are properly stored.

Fast-track the development of your restaurant SOPs with KNOW

Know is your one-stop tool for scheduling, food safety, maintenance, training, employee engagement. We help you digitize kitchen and front-of-house checklists, temperature checks, sales data collection, and more. You can create multi-level forms for approvals or handovers and generate reports from the web dashboard. Sounds good? Initiate a conversation today to know more. 


What is SOP in a restaurant?

Restaurant SOPs are detailed, written instructions designed to achieve uniformity in the performance of specific functions within a restaurant.  

How to make SOP for restaurants?

There are several steps to writing a detailed SOP. You need to identify your core processes, industry trends, focus on employee training, get their feedback, and more. 

What is a SOP checklist? 

An SOP checklist is a pre-designed document that summarizes the standardized procedures for various tasks and operations within a restaurant. The template serves as your guide to ensure that all staff members follow the same procedures.