How to Organize & Manage a Food Service Establishment

A food service establishment can take many different forms, from a small diner and coffee shop to a four-star restaurant. Once you've purchased your property and lined up the financing for your establishment, there are basic procedures that every food service operation should consider. Invest the time to write up all your procedures before you even open to ensure a smooth opening and ongoing success as you learn to organize and manage a food service establishment.

Develop a menu. If you are a working chef and owner, the menu will be the easiest piece of the process because you know where your strengths lie. Make lists of what foods can be made ahead of time and which items are cooked to order. Consider local and seasonal items that can enhance the menu, but will limit your offerings. Keep the menu options loose if you have not hired a chef yet or hire a cook that can follow your directions.

Incorporate Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems and guidelines into all your operations to maintain a safe and healthy eating environment. After passing initial inspections to open, you will be visited by health inspectors on a regular basis and if the safety codes are an integral part of your operations, you will be ready for an inspection at any time. Patrons will appreciate your eye for cleanliness as well.

Keep the flow of food constant to avoid confusion. Train your staff to follow procedures that lead to cleanliness and logically move the food from the cooler to the ovens to the tables. A flowchart can depict this flow and help you to enforce its usage. Appoint a manager or supervisor to monitor the flow and the attention to regulations such as required temperatures for various food items.

Purchase a software computer system that incorporates scheduling, purchasing, vendor information and sales so that you can easily run reports and manage the entire operation from one source. Systems such as Point of Success and TracRite can help you keep tabs on payroll, cash and sales. Look for a system that can be integrated with a web-based platform so that you can access the information when you are not at the establishment.

Schedule staff so that peak periods are covered adequately and employees have enough work to do. By providing the correct numbers of wait staff, cooks and managers, you can keep retention rates high. Provide each employee with a list of duties to be completed during each shift. Keep a clear chain of command in place and open communications with staff to provide an atmosphere for patrons that ensures your success.


  • Take advantage of the expertise of an experienced restaurant consultant prior to opening to build successful operational strategies. Bring in a consultant occasionally to check out your operations and make recommendations for improvements.


  • Be prepared to reconfigure the menu if you choose to use seasonal fare. Don't invest in laminated, expensive menus if you plan on changing your offerings regularly.