Finance & Operations

Restaurant Opening and Closing Checklist for Servers & Kitchen Staff

By Katherine Pendrill

A man and woman at a restaurant smile and look together at a tablet device.

Organized chaos – although it’s an oxymoron, it can be an accurate description of a restaurant during the Friday night dinner rush. So, where does your business fall on the spectrum of organized to chaotic? Wherever you land, a restaurant opening and closing checklist can get you closer to peak performance.

Streamlining your restaurant operations is key to driving repeat business. Your guests want to connect with family and friends over good food in a fun environment, and your restaurant must be able to meet the demand – or risk losing business to competitors. In the midst of labor shortages, fine tuning your internal processes can help you stay organized and able to deliver excellent customer service.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • The benefits of using restaurant opening and closing checklists
  • The three different opening checklists you need
  • The three different closing checklists you need

Now, let’s get your restaurant operating as smooth as butter.

Benefits of a Restaurant Opening and Closing Checklist Template

Servers and kitchen staff may not always agree on everything (like when’s a good time to ask the kitchen for 5 modifications to an order). However, all staff would agree that it’s frustrating to start a shift when the closing duties weren’t properly completed the night before.

As a restaurateur, you want your employees to be happy because you care about having a great culture and a profitable business. Taking control of your processes by using standardized opening and closing checklist templates is an excellent way to achieve this state of harmony. Considering that businesses can lose up to 30% of profits every year due to inefficient processes, it pays to get your ducks in a row.

“The biggest risk for the restaurant industry is rising wages and food costs,” according to this article by Modern Restaurant Management. “It’s imperative that you’re consistently and actively reducing costs to maintain your current level of success. How can you do this? Improving efficiencies.”

For example, restaurant opening and closing checklist templates make it faster and easier for your staff to open and start serving customers, or to close and head home for the night. 

Restaurant Opening Checklist
Get Your Daily Restaurant Opening Checklist

Use this daily opening checklist to ensure staff complete essential tasks before your restaurant opens for service.

Download Now

Checklists templates also ensure tasks don’t get forgotten during a rush period and left for the next shift of servers to begrudgingly complete. They’re also a good resource for new employees, which can help you save precious time on training.

If you like the sound of leveraging restaurant open and close checklists, but you’re overwhelmed by the idea of actually creating the templates – fear not. We’ve included six opening and closing checklist templates (as well as downloadable PDFs) below.

Restaurant Closing Checklist
Get Your Daily Restaurant Closing Checklist

Use this daily closing checklist to ensure staff complete essential end-of-day tasks after service has ended.

Download Now

Opening Checklists

Starting the day off right can make all the difference to employee morale at your restaurant, which supports long term retention and a healthy bottom line. Whether you’re an early bird or a coffee-first-conversation-second type, these restaurant opening checklists will have you saying “good morning!”

Women working at a restaurant smiles and holds a sign that says the venue is open.

Opening Checklist for Servers and Other Front of House Staff

Server responsibilities are no joke. Your employees already have full plates, so tame the chaos with this handy opening checklist. Make it a team effort and get your host and bar staff involved, too. This will give all of your front of house employees an idea of what’s involved in running a busy restaurant.

  • Turn on lights and music
  • Adjust thermostat
  • Turn on POS system
  • Sign in or punch in
  • Take count of any money in the register
  • Sweep or vacuum floors
  • Empty trash bins
  • Clean and sanitize all windows, tables, and surfaces
  • Adjust tables and chairs as needed
  • Ensure all linens are cleaned, ironed, and folded
  • Set tables with place settings
  • Restock or refill tabletop items (i.e. salt, pepper, sugar, etc.)
  • Inspect walls and curtains for any visible spots
  • Clean the bathrooms and make sure any essentials are restocked (i.e. hand soap, toilet paper, etc.)
  • Stock every station with clean glassware and silverware
  • Set up mis en place at bar
  • Restock liquor at bar
  • Ensure the side station is stocked and stacked
  • Fill water pitchers

Looking for a downloadable version of this checklist? Get your very own server opening checklist PDF.

Restaurant Opening Checklist
Get Your Daily Restaurant Opening Checklist

Use this daily opening checklist to ensure staff complete essential tasks before your restaurant opens for service.

Download Now

Opening Checklist for Back of House Staff

You may rely on your kitchen staff for their culinary genius, but you also depend on them to help your restaurant stay spotless and clear of health code violations. Use this opening checklist for back of house employees to keep your restaurant clean, your inventory under control, your food superb, and your guests happy from the moment you open.

  • Wipe food preparation areas
  • Chop ingredients for kitchen stations
  • Add necessary tools and equipment to each station
  • Restock incoming inventory
  • Take stock of incoming items
  • Put incoming inventory in proper storage spaces
Restaurant Opening Checklist
Get Your Daily Restaurant Opening Checklist

Use this daily opening checklist to ensure staff complete essential tasks before your restaurant opens for service.

Download Now

Opening Checklist for Management

Your restaurant managers are your eyes and ears on the ground. They’re taking the pulse of your staff and guest satisfaction levels on a daily basis, and helping you run a tight ship. Make their lives easier with a restaurant opening checklist that will never leave them guessing about their next move, and that will always support them in getting their priority work done.

  • Review the staff schedule and make adjustments as necessary
  • Set agenda for the staff meeting
  • Establish goals for the day
  • Review the daily specials
  • Review menu items
  • Staff tasting of new menu items
Women in a restaurant writes in a book with a pen and sits in front of her laptop computer at a desk to create a restaurant opening and closing checklist.

Closing Checklists

Just as starting the day off right is essential to running an organized, successful restaurant, so is closing on a high note. Use these checklists to ensure everything in your restaurant is done and dusted (literally) before you shut down for the night.

Closing Checklist for Servers and Other Front of House Staff

Restaurant cleaning is a major part of closing duties. Give your servers and front of house staff the direction they need to get your restaurant clean and tidy by the end of their shift.

  • Wipe down and sanitize all seats and surfaces
  • Flip chairs on top of tables
  • Wipe down the bar, host stand, and any POS tablets
  • Wipe down all menus and checkbooks
  • Wipe down glass doors to remove fingerprints
  • Refill any condiments and napkin dispensers
  • Remove and clean non-slip mats behind the bar
  • Pull up grate and clean spills underneath
  • Sweep, vacuum, and/or mop all floors
  • Put non-slip mats back
  • Empty rag buckets at server station
  • Empty and clean coffee makers
  • Clean and sanitize soda dispensers
  • Clean and plug beer taps
  • Clean guest bathroom and restock as needed
  • Polish glasses and roll silverware
  • Close out the register
  • Take out the trash
  • Close all windows
  • Turn off the lights and music
  • Adjust thermostat

To ensure no closing duties are missed, get your free server closing checklist:

Restaurant Closing Checklist
Get Your Daily Restaurant Closing Checklist

Use this daily closing checklist to ensure staff complete essential end-of-day tasks after service has ended.

Download Now

Closing Checklist for Kitchen Staff

Closing the kitchen is a more extensive process than opening due to all the cleaning requirements involved, so help your staff stay on track with this handy list. 

  • Remove non-slip mats and clean them
  • Sweep and mop all floors
  • Put back non-slip mats
  • Empty kitchen trash cans
  • Wash and/or sanitize all cooking utensils, cutting boards, pans, etc.
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Clean and sanitize all prep areas and line stations
  • Scrub the flattop and change fryer oil
  • Clean and restock the employee bathroom
  • Tidy the break room
  • Take stock of inventory and adjust any orders
  • Consolidate containers of the same foods
  • Date and label all food that hasn’t been dated or labeled
  • Rotate inventory in fridge (first in, first out)
  • Restock all line stations
  • Ensure all perishable foods are properly stored
  • Check the temperature of freezers and fridges
  • Check that the walk-in and any other fridges or freezers are shut tight
  • Turn off all heaters, ovens, and gas stoves
  • Make sure all other equipment and appliances are turned off
  • Make prep list for tomorrow’s prep cook
  • Lock back doors
Restaurant Closing Checklist
Get Your Daily Restaurant Closing Checklist

Use this daily closing checklist to ensure staff complete essential end-of-day tasks after service has ended.

Download Now

Opening Checklist for Management

After a full dinner service, your managers want to wind down and plan for the day ahead. Give them the direction they need for a smooth closing with this checklist template.

  • Build and post the staff schedule for the next day
  • Check clock-in and clock-out times
  • Fill out manager log book
  • Run end of day reports through the POS
  • Compare POS sales report with the money in the register and credit card receipts
  • Confirm that the cash registers are balanced
  • Make sure any outstanding bills are paid (rent, utilities, etc.)
  • Make sure payroll is paid
  • Tidy the back office
  • Log off and turn off computers
  • Lock POS system
  • Activate the security system
  • Lock doors


We’ve covered server opening and closing checklists, plus restaurant open and close checklists for kitchen staff and management. Your team now has everything they need to get your dining room ready for a busy service and get it back in shape for the following day. The only task left on the list? Print out our handy restaurant opening checklist and restaurant closing checklist templates so your employees can easily reference them every day.

Photo of Katherine Pendrill
by Katherine Pendrill

Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.

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