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How to Maintain a Restaurant

How to Create a Super-Effective Restaurant Maintenance Checklist

Run and Maintain Your Restaurant Through the Power of Checklists

Breaking into the restaurant business takes hard work and determination, especially when it comes to restaurant maintenance. With so many nooks and crannies to clean, as well as equipment to maintain, the seemingly straightforward task of keeping a neat establishment can quickly become overwhelming. 

That’s why you need a clear and detailed restaurant maintenance checklist that your staff can follow and your management team can enforce. With help from David Scott Peters of TheRestaurantExpert.com, we’ll show you how to make a checklist that actually works. 

Get ready to say goodbye to the monthly “cleaning party” once and for all. 

Step 1: Ask Your Employees to Create Their Own Checklists 

Maintaining a restaurant is a daily effort, requiring the help of every employee. That’s why you should use their knowledge and experience to create your daily opening and closing checklists:

“We give a blank checklist to the best employee in each position and ask them what should be done because I’m a firm believer that the person who does the job for eight hours knows the job better than anyone else in the building: where the dishes should be, what needs to be cleaned, etc.”

David Scott Peters | TheRestaurantExpert.com

Letting your best employees put together the maintenance checklist for your restaurant accomplishes two things: It empowers your workers by allowing them to set the standards and provides you with accurate checklists for each station in your restaurant.

Step 2: Write Down Your Own Maintenance Notes

Restaurant Owner Jotting Down Notes

Once your employees have filled out their checklists, it’s time for you to fill out your own. Walk around the inside and outside of your building and note anything else that will need attention. “From dust bunnies to grease tracks, gum out front, everything that drives you nuts – write it down,” says Peters. 

During your walkabout, write down tasks that should be completed on a weekly and monthly basis as well.

“Monthly, we should probably be pulling all the equipment away from the wall and deep cleaning in the kitchen. We should be checking certain things we don’t pay attention to, whether it’s AC filters, double-checking our grease trap area, our dumpster, any of the bigger projects.”

David Scott Peters | TheRestaurantExpert.com

After you have inspected every square inch of your restaurant, combine your notes with the station-specific checklists. For example, add “scrape gum” to the closing checklist that will be used by the employee/station responsible for cleaning the tables at night. 

Note: This is a good job to delegate to your general manager. 

Step 3: Make Sure Your Checklists Are as Detailed as Possible  

Before rolling them out, review your checklists and make sure each task is clearly defined. This is the most important part of creating a restaurant maintenance checklist because if you don’t spell out what your employees should be doing, you won’t get the results you want.

“If somebody doesn’t do it to our standards, it means our standard isn’t clear enough. For instance, the checklist could say 'clean bathroom.' What does that mean? Think about it this way, have you ever seen one of your employee’s apartments? What they think is clean isn’t your clean.” 

David Scott Peters | TheRestaurantExpert.com

If you include a task like “clean bathroom” on your checklist, you should break it down into detailed action items. “It [should] say no water spots on mirror, no puddles on counter, trash must be emptied if 50 percent full or more. Specific and clear.” This way your employees know exactly what to do and your managers can hold them to it.   

Step 4: Roll Out Your New Restaurant Maintenance Checklists 

Instruct your managers to run through the new process with your employees to ensure everyone is aware of the new standards. Once your staff is onboard, it’s still on your managers to hold employees accountable. But now they’ll have clear instructions they can point to when tasks aren’t getting done. 

“Great hospitality is when two guests only pay attention to each other, they want for nothing, but they don’t notice anything other than each other. So, when I see dead flies on the windowsill, I’ve just started to ruin the guest experience because now they’re paying attention to something other than each other.”

David Scott Peters | TheRestaurantExpert.com

A well-written checklist is essential both for maintaining your restaurant and maximizing your guests’ experience. If you put in the time and effort, you’ll be rewarded with a safe and welcoming environment that keeps your customers coming back for more.

Wondering what your checklist should look like? Here’s a quick example showing how much detail to include in your instructions.

Daily Tasks:

Clean Bathrooms
  • Remove water spots from mirror. 
  • Clean up any standing water. 
  • Scrub toilet inside and out using disinfectant cleaner. 
  • Empty trash can if half-filled or more. 

 

Sanitize Tables
  • Wipe off any food particles or spills. 
  • Spray down table with sanitizing solution. 
  • Wipe down with clean towel. 
  • Scrape off gum from underneath table.

 

Vacuum Carpets/Mop Floors
  • Vacuum front welcome mat and waiting area. 
  • Vacuum all dining rooms, including under tables and chairs. 
  • Mop kitchen floor, including accessible space under prep surfaces and equipment.

 

Clean Seats and Booths
  • Remove any crumbs or stains from upholstery. 
  • Spray with upholstery cleaning solution. 
  • Wipe down with clean towel. 
  • Scrape off gum under chairs. 
  • Report any damage to shift manager. 

 

Clean Condiment Shakers or Bottles
  • Ensure no residue remains on containers.
  • Refill containers as needed. 

 

Take Out the Trash
  • Empty trash cans in back and front of building. 
  • Place full bags in the dumpster.
  • Disinfect inside and outside of trash cans.
  • Put new trash bags in the cans. 

 

Dust Ledges and Windowsills
  • Check for dust and grime on all flat surfaces, including trim, ledges and windowsills.
  • Use damp cloth to remove dust. 

 

Weekly Tasks:

Clean Door Handles
  • Disinfect and wipe down all door handles, both indoors and outdoors. 

Wash Glass Windows and Doors
  • Remove fingerprints and streaks using glass cleaner and microfiber cloth.

Inspect Air Ducts
  • Check air ducts for dust. 
  • Use vacuum cleaner to clean up excess dust. 

 

Monthly Tasks:

Dust Light Fixtures
  • Dust and wipe down all light fixtures using a damp cloth. 

Check for Cobwebs
  • Use extendable duster to remove cobwebs from ceiling. 

Clean Behind Kitchen Equipment
  • Pull equipment away from wall. 
  • Remove dust and grease from wall and equipment.
  • Mop and sanitize floor. 

 

Replace Air Filters
  • Inspect air filter for dirt.
  • If dirty, grab new air filter from supply room and replace old filter.