Need a checklist you can give to managers to ensure everything is cleaned, prepped and ready for business the next day? We’ve got you covered with printable PDFs you can download now and use in your own restaurant right away.
Most restaurants divide closing responsibilities into three categories: A front of house closing list, a back of house closing list, and a manager’s closing list. Typically, floor managers, experienced servers, chefs or line cooks, or general managers are responsible not for performing each task themselves, but simply in ensuring they get done by SOMEBODY.
Hold your employees accountable for their closing duties by either printing multiple copies of checklists to be completed by the person to whom duties are assigned each night, or laminate a big copy for staff to check off with a dry erase marker as tasks are completed. A tiny surge of extra effort at the end of the evening will help ensure a smooth, efficient, and safe opening the next day, and your staff (not to mention your customers!) will appreciate it.
Here’s a sample manager closing checklist in PDF to help get you started with organizing your closing duties sheets. Of course, not every task will apply to every establishment, so feel free to add or subtract to the lists below to suit your particular business. You’ll find more business startup checklists at no cost by downloading our food business startup kit.
Manager Closing Checklists Explained:
- Front of House and Bar Checklist
- Kitchen and Back of House Checklist
- Manager Checklist
- Making Your Own Closing Checklist
Front of House and Bar Checklist
- Wipe down and sanitize all tables and chairs
- Flip chairs on top of tables
- Pull floor mats from entryway and from behind the bar for cleaning
- Clean any major spills, both on the floor and under grates behind the bar
- Replace mats
- Fine-tune placement of tables and chairs in the dining room, making sure tables and chairs haven’t been nudged out of place into disarray
- Gather dirty rags and launder, where applicable
- Clean and wipe down check books, menus, and wine lists…or anything else that’s been handled by the public
- Empty and clean coffee machines and holding pots
- Clean soda machine and beer taps and lines
- Drain ice holding wells
- Sweep and mop guest bathroom, check mirror, deep clean toilet, and restock toiletries as needed
- Empty any front of house trash cans (including any located in the bathroom) and haul outside to the dumpster
- Wipe down the bar, the host or hostess stand, and the screens of any tablets or point of sale devices
- Roll silverware
- Clean and shine any glass or reflective surfaces
- Turn off all front of house lights, including in the bar area
- Make sure all wine bottles are corked (fruit flies, yo!)
- Pull pour spouts from liquor bottles, or wrap with plastic
- Restock canned drinks, liquir bottles, and bottled mixers
- Cut and refill bar garnishes
- Restock kicked beer kegs
- Lock away alcohol and electronics, where applicable
- Count out front of house and bar register drawers and store cash or deposits securely
- Lock doors/restricted cages and/or cabinets
- Put all menus and wine lists back where they belong
- Check/refill napkin dispensers
- Refill salt and pepper shakers
- Mary ketchups/check any table condiments
Kitchen and Back of House Checklist
- Pull nonslip floor mats and clean
- Sweep and mop kitchen floor
- Replace nonslip mats
- Empty all kitchen trash cans and recycling bins, and haul to dumpster as needed
- Wash and sanitize all cooking utensils, pots and pans, prep or hotel pans, cutting boards, and put back in their proper places
- Scour and sanitize all prep areas, line stations, and cooking surfaces
- Break down, scrape, and scour flattops, grills, and charbroilers
- Change or filter fryer oil as needed or scheduled
- Clean and restock staff bathroom, and clean hand wash sinks
- Ensure break areas or rooms are organized and clean
- Double check inventory (ideally comparing with daily prep task list), and adjust pending orders as needed
- Consolidate containers of same foods/prep dates
- Ensure all delivery orders are put away properly
- Date and label any food that isn’t dated or labeled
- Scan walk-in and prep coolers for out of date items, discarding as needed
- Restock all line coolers and prep coolers
- Make sure refrigerator and freezers doors are all tightly closed and internal lights turned off
- Make prep list for the next day, outlining any items which are low or out of stock
- Make sure walk-in coolers and prep coolers are clean and well organized according to ServSafe standards, including raw poultry, seafood, prepped dishes, produce, etc)
- Check inventory rotation, ensuring that “first in first out” is being observed and that new product isn’t used before old product
- Empty dishwasher and wipe down dish room
Food and Fire Safety:
- Check all thermometers to ensure refrigerators and freezers are holding safe operating temperatures
- Verify that all appliances, equipment, and heaters are turned off
- Store sharp kitchen tools safely and appropriately
- Walk through the whole restaurant, verify front and back of house tasks, and look for anything unexpected that needs to be addressed by another member of staff
- Collect tablecloths, napkins, and kitchen towels and prepare them for washing
Staff and Morale:
- Thank every single employee for their hard work, and say “goodnight”
- Address any issues with employees as needed
- Make sure that timeclock procedures are kept by all staff
- Make notes or fill out incident reports as needed
- Build staff schedule and post as needed
- Answer customer inquiries, check social media sites, and tackle online reviews, including Yelp and TripAdvisor
- Make sure management office is clean and organized
- Check scheduled deliveries for next day
- Perform accounting tasks, if any, as assigned, including vendor payments and billing
- Check POS sales report, and compare with cash on hand and credit card receipts. Reconcile tips
- Address any unclosed tickets or unpaid items
- Organize deposits as needed
- Double check any comps or voided sales
- Lock office, filing cabinets, and safe. Make sure computer is powered down and password protected
- Check all building points of entry, to make sure all doors and windows are locked
- Set building alarm and lock front door as you leave
Making Your Closing Checklist Your New Best Friend
It’s the end of the night. The last satisfied customer has been given their coat and show the door. The house lights are off, the in-house music has been switched from non-threatening electronic noise to blaringly loud throwback gangster rap, and the entire staff is breathing a huge sigh of relief. There were no major screw-ups, the kitchen kept up, there were no major blunders by the front-of-house staff, and the till is full. As a busy night in your restaurant goes, this has felt like a pretty good one…until you confront the mess.
There’s a wad of greasy napkins under table six. The dish pit is overflowing with gravy-soaked pots and pans. Your line cooks have used every single prep pan you own. No one has rolled silverware all night. And the kitchen looks like it’s been hit by a tornado made of metal spoons and demiglace.
Related Reading: Cooking is My Passion. Should I Start a Restaurant?
At times like these, it can be tempting to rush through your cleanup checklist, close the doors, and walk away to face your destroyed kitchen and dining room in the light of day. After all, it will all still be there in the morning, right? And wouldn’t it all be easier to deal with after a good night’s sleep?
Stop right there. Taking time to close down your restaurant properly, and to do as much as possible to prep for the next day is a critically important part of keeping your business running smoothly.
And since even an experienced staff or manager is prone to occasional bouts of fatigue and corner-cutting, and because different teams need to be held accountable for their various responsibilities, many managers find an “end of night closing” checklist to be a helpful tool in managing all of the tasks that need to be performed each night, while setting the morning crew up for success the following day.
The PDF and written check lists published here will get you about 90% of the way there. But your restaurant probably has some unique attributes we didn’t include.
Learn More: How to Open a Restaurant in 90 Days Checklist
An orderly closing list, and working through it, won’t even be too difficult or time consuming for employees either. I’ve found that employees and staff will appreciate knowing what is expected of them each night, and creating a list also created accountability for those tasks that can be ticked off. Furthermore, the use of opening or closing lists can also be tied to employee incentives; for example, your most consistent or quickest closers may get bonuses, or first pick of shifts off each week.
Even long after you think you’ve got a pretty good handle on all of the end-of-shift tasks which must be performed each day, corners can get cut and mistakes can be made.
A well-organized closing list, separated by the different areas of the restaurant and with different staff members responsible for each component of closing ensures that your closing goes as efficiently as possible, with no missed details, and with the cleanest and most organized possible environment to walk into in the morning.