How a Restaurant Closing Checklist Benefits Your Business

As a bar or restaurant owner, you know that your night isn’t over when the last customer leaves. When the door closes and the lights come back up in the dining area and bar, there are still tasks to complete before the night is truly done.

To expedite the process of wrapping up for the night, restaurant and bar owners can turn to a closing checklist that outlines tasks to be completed by front-of-house staff, back-of-house staff, and management. Restaurant closing checklists split tasks among employees to make sure that the night is wrapped up promptly and thoroughly.

Closing checklists will vary for each establishment; cafes and quick-service restaurants will probably have different needs at the end of a day. Items you find on a closing checklist might include, but are by no means limited to:

Tasks for Front-of-House Staff:

  • Making sure servers have closed their tables properly and have cashed out for the night
  • Taking out the trash and securing the garbage or dumpster area to keep pests and critters away
  • Polishing glassware and rolling silverware for the next day

Tasks for Back-of-House Staff:

  • Cleaning and sanitizing food prep areas and work surfaces
  • Taking inventory and reporting low-stock items to the chef or manager
  • Updating food labels

Tasks for Managers:

  • Reconciling or balancing cash registers
  • Properly securing all cash in a drop safe 
  • Take notes on the night’s operations to discuss with the next day’s crew
  • Set building alarms and lock the doors

Benefits of of a Closing Checklist

A restaurant closing checklist isn’t just about knocking items out so you and your team can head home; it impacts your entire operation. Some of the main benefits of a thorough and consistent closing checklist include:

Enhanced Restaurant Safety

Each employee plays a role in the safety of your staff and customers, and your closing checklist should include a number of items focused on maintaining safety standards in your establishment.

Back-of-house staff should update food labels at the end of each shift to ensure that your kitchen is only using food products that are safe to consume, and discarding items that are expired. Additionally, follow a regular cleaning schedule so all cooking utensils and equipment are clean and well-maintained.

Front-of-house staff should inspect chairs and seating surfaces for any damage, while also ensuring that floors and walkways are clean and free from any tripping or slipping hazards. Take the opportunity to ensure your exterior doors and windows are properly secured, as they may have been opened by customers before you closed.

Finally, don’t forget about the safety of your employees. Ensure that your employees who leave late at night have the option to be accompanied to their vehicle. Restaurant workers, particularly tipped employees, may be targeted by thieves, so take the time to make sure each employee makes it to their vehicle safely. 

Energy Savings

Restaurants use roughly 5-7 times more energy per square foot than any other type of business. While much of those energy costs can be attributed to refrigeration, there are a lot of ways to save both energy and money, and a closing checklist can help you do that.

Your restaurant’s closing checklist should remind you to turn all kitchen equipment (other than refrigerators) off for the night and ensure that refrigerators and walk-in coolers are sealed tightly. Not only will you avoid needless energy use by doing this, but it will also preserve food more effectively.

The front-of-house staff should also make sure that all house lighting has been turned off for the night, as well as any accent or bathroom lights that could be using energy all night.  It’s a good idea to pre-determine lights that will remain on for security purposes and install energy efficient bulbs and fixtures for those lights.   Finally, your manager should either program your heating and cooling system to work less at night or manually adjust it until the openers arrive the next day.

Improved Organization and Smoother Business Operations

Bars and restaurants can be high-stress work environments, and there’s little more frustrating than finding a task that hasn’t been completed during the middle of a rush. Finding that silverware hasn’t been rolled, the bar wasn’t properly restocked, or that inventory orders weren’t placed on time can derail your operations in the midst of a rush. A closing checklist matters to more than just the closing employees; it can have a significant impact on the next day’s operations overall.

Your bar or restaurant’s closing checklist should also include items for the manager and chef to handle, such as managing payroll, placing orders, scheduling employees, and paying bills. Delegate tasks such as taking inventory to other employees who will already be in the right place when putting things away for the night and updating labels.

Ultimately, a closing checklist makes work more predictable for everyone, and prepares your business for success the next day.

Reduced Business Risk

While the tasks in a restaurant’s closing checklist may be routine, they’re easy to forget as you and your staff rush to wrap things up for the night. Despite that, closing tasks are vital to the success and security of your operation. A closing checklist can help ensure that your bar or restaurant is clean, safe, and ready to serve the next day’s customers.

No matter how detailed your restaurant closing checklist is and no matter how thorough your employees are, restaurants and bars always face risks: a storm or flood could damage your property, or a power outage could lead to spoiled inventory and unexpected closures.

To learn more about the risks facing your bar or restaurant, and insurance tailored to your business’ specific needs, contact your local Society Insurance agent today.


As a mutual insurance company, we operate and exist for the benefit of our policyholders. For more than 100 years, Society has been helping businesses overcome the unexpected with comprehensive coverage packages and outstanding claims handling, underwriting and risk management.

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