Industry Trends

Your Fresh Start Restaurant Checklist

By Andrea Victory

checking restaurant checklist with pen in hand

The start of a new year gives you the opportunity to start fresh. After the busy holiday season your restaurant probably needs a little TLC. So during the mellow month of January, take some time to go through your venue and clean up and clear out the clutter from last year.

Here’s a checklist for each area of your restaurant to tackle and what exactly you should clean, replace, and organize for the year ahead.

Back Office

The back office commonly becomes a dumping ground for restaurant paraphernalia. Cups of cold coffee, outdated magazines, papers on papers on papers. Get in there first and give it a go-over.

☐ ​Clean up stray items: coffee cups, wrappers, garbage

☐ Organize files and papers into folders or digital records

☐ Clean the computer keyboard and wipe down the mouse

☐ Fix anything broken or squeaky

☐ Sweep or vacuum the floor


The kitchen gets the most love in terms of regular cleaning, but it doesn’t mean some things don’t get overlooked. Take a close look at what has seen it’s day and make sure everything is up to par for the year ahead.

☐ Reorganize waste bins clearly marking what goes in recycling, compost, and dumpster

☐ Check that all cooking equipment is in perfect working condition

☐ Replace anything old, broken, or past its lifespan

☐ Restock takeout supplies: napkins, plastic forks, straws, and containers

Staff Area

Kind of like a clubhouse, with so many people coming and going and no one really in charge, staff areas can get, well, pretty gross. Get your staff on board to freshen up the place.

☐ Declutter cubbies and shelves

☐ Remove old items from message boards

☐ Clean the bathroom

☐ Replace anything broken

☐ Replace dim light bulbs with bright energy efficient ones


It’s the reason you do what you do, so show the menu a little tender care and figure out what a revamped offering could mean for your restaurant for the new year.

☐ Look at sales reports and determine your best sellers

☐ Meet with chef to discuss new dishes and specials

☐ Optimize your menu by using some of these best practices

☐ Consider ordering new physical menus


Often pushed to the wayside, now is time to update your restaurant website with any new changes and be sure you’re showing up when people search you.

☐ Update your website to reflect any recent changes (hours, menu, etc)

☐ Make sure that your menu is on your website (but not in PDF format)

☐ Add your business to Google Business

☐ Update the bios and profile pictures in your social profiles

Behind the Bar

The busy bar sees a lot of action. It also sees a lot of late nights. Get your bartenders to clean and polish the details that get missed night after night.

☐ Clean all of the glassware shelves

☐ Clean up the odds and ends that clutter around the POS

☐ Clean any sticky liquor bottles and shelves

☐ Have the draft lines cleaned


The heart of your restaurant, your POS holds the keys to your success. Make sure that all of the information it holds is correct so that your reporting is up to date and accurate from here on in.

Clean your credit card reader, POS screen, and any other high-touch restaurant technology 

☐ Make sure all staff profiles are up to date

☐ Check permissions settings for each employee

☐ Check that menu items, mods, and add-ons are correct

☐ Double check that your floor plan is accurate

Dining Room

The comfort of your diners is key here and shows your attention to detail. Fresh salt and pepper, perfectly aligned tables, and an overall clean and dust-free environment are musts.

☐ Fix wobbly tables and chairs – for good

☐ Dust blinds and professionally clean any curtains

☐ Empty and wash all salt and pepper shakers

☐ Have any carpets or rugs professionally cleaned

☐ Replace dim lightbulbs with energy efficient ones


The outside can sometimes get neglected because of all the activity happening inside – especially in the cooler months. Keep it fresh year round.

☐ Clear pathways and walkways 

☐ ​Remove old signage, banners and flags, and seasonal decorations

☐ Update sidewalk sign (paint it if necessary)

☐ Have the windows cleaned professionally

Restaurants see a lot of activity throughout the year. Start this year off right by giving attention to all of the neglected or overlooked parts of your venue. A fresh start means a fresh slate for customers and staff!

Photo of Andrea Victory
by Andrea Victory

Andrea was a Content Marketing Specialist and Editor at TouchBistro where she wrote about restaurant and dining trends, restaurant management, and food culture. A self-affirmed food geek, Andrea devours cookbooks and food blogs. She also knows how to make a killer kale salad.

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