August 17, 2022 The Print Authority

The Ultimate New Hire Restaurant Training Checklist

No matter your restaurant’s cuisine or service style, having well-trained employees is the key to a successful dining experience. Ensuring that all employees receive excellent onboarding and a  restaurant training program is the first step to service that upholds your restaurant’s mission.

If you want to know about employee onboarding food service materials, you’re in the right place! Keep reading to learn exactly what you need on your server training checklist.

Why Is Employee Onboarding in Food Service So Important?

In food service, a successful onboarding process is absolutely vital. Some of the most important results of a well-organized hiring process include:

  • Increased safety. Food service training is a matter of professionalism, but it is also a matter of health and safety. Proper training ensures that diners can enjoy a risk-free dining experience.
  • Increased retention rates. The average cost of replacing a restaurant employee is $5,864, so you want to minimize turnover as much as possible. By providing clear instructions that help staff perform their jobs well, you reduce conflict and increase retention.
  • Improved customer satisfaction. Every customer wants a seamless dining experience. Staff can only provide this if they’ve been adequately trained.
  • Improved employee satisfaction. Employees want to do their jobs well, and they need resources that help them succeed in the workplace. When servers, cooks, and other restaurant staff can find the answers they need, they face less stress and can be confident that they’re doing good work.

High-quality onboarding packets, welcome kits, and other training materials lead to a better training process. New hires learn the skills they need to succeed, trainers easily explain best practices, and all employees work together to create a restaurant that thrives.

Server Training Checklist

When you’re creating an employee onboarding food service plan, remember to include the following ideas on your new hire restaurant training checklist.

Server Orientation Packets

Get new hires started on the right foot with well-planned and professionally printed server training checklists, which include all of the most important information that new employees need to succeed.

One of the main components of your orientation packet is your comprehensive training manual. Not all training manuals are created equal: a poor training manual leaves new hires floundering, whereas an excellent one welcomes them into the restaurant and sets them up for success. Some of the most crucial aspects of your training manuals include:

  • Clear task explanations. Training manuals teach new employees how to perform their tasks. Include step-by-step instructions for both front-of-house and back-of-house staff, which employees can turn to for guidance throughout their tenure.
  • Detailed safety policies. Safety always comes first, so include all safety information that helps your servers ensure that guests and employees enjoy a safe and healthy experience.
  • Positive workplace encouragement. When new employees join your restaurant, they are also joining your family. As you explain the ins and outs of your company, help them feel welcome and establish a clear, positive tone that they can emulate in their service.

Quality printed orientation packets emphasize your dedication to your new hires. By taking the time and effort to provide comprehensive resources, new hires will understand that you have their success in mind right from the start.

In-Person Orientation

40% of restaurant employees say that their hiring process lacked sufficient team-building exercises. Don’t make this mistake! A restaurant is a tight-knit team, and all the members need to be able to work well together. Offering an in-person orientation period as part of your server training program helps all new employees feel welcome. Some of the other benefits of face-to-face orientations include:

  • Increased team bonding. When employees meet their coworkers, they form tighter bonds. They’ll develop closer working relationships with their colleagues, which leads to improved service.
  • Building familiarity with the restaurant. Restaurant workers can only get their jobs done once they understand how the restaurant works. By completing orientation in person, new hires are a step ahead when it comes to understanding the ins and outs of their new workplace.

Personal and Team Goal Setting

During the training process, establish goals for your team. Introducing action-oriented benchmarks will help new hires learn the ropes and keep track of their progress.

  • Individual goal setting. In your orientation packet, include a form or worksheet where new hires can list their goals for their employment. Service staff members will be able to reference this exercise again and again to motivate themselves and keep track of their progress.
  • Workplace benchmarks. Establish time-based goals for new hires, including information to learn and tasks to successfully accomplish after the first day and the first week on the job.


Restaurants are exciting and dynamic ecosystems in which every position is vital for diner satisfaction, and changes arise frequently. As part of their training schedule, cross-train new hires so that they can jump in and help wherever they’re needed.

  • Cross-train with hosts. As part of the onboarding process, make sure new hires shadow a host to understand the customer experience. Help them understand your scheduling system and how to manage reservations so that they understand the dining process as a whole.
  • Cross-train with food runners. Food runners are the unsung heroes of the restaurant world, serving food, clearing tables, and preparing setups. Make sure that new servers understand the food runners’ tasks, which will help them become familiar with the restaurant layout and offerings.

Soft-Launch the Position

Help new employees learn from the best by shadowing top servers. Through observing their great examples, the new employees will understand how to provide top-level service and pick up on helpful tips and tricks.

  • Master the important tasks. Servers must be able to perform key tasks such as taking orders, using the POS system, and closing out before they can take on tables on their own. While shadowing an experienced server, they will start to get the hang of these crucial aspects of their new job.
  • Understand the details. Every restaurant is different, with a different layout, dry and cold storage locations, and side work tasks. Shadowing an experienced server will help new hires understand the ins and outs that make the restaurant function.

Sample the Menu

It’s a server’s job to be an expert on the menu, so provide opportunities for them to taste your dishes so that they can have informed opinions.

  • Learn about allergens. One of the predominant service and safety concerns in every restaurant is knowledge of allergens. When leading the tasting sessions, the trainer can explain which allergens are present in which plates so that the servers can safely and accurately pass that information on to diners.
  • Increase memory recall. Learners easily remember information that they’ve experienced through multiple senses. Once new servers taste your dishes, they’ll be able to better remember them when customers ask for details and recommendations.

Never Stop Learning

In a restaurant environment, all employees are constant learners. From fresh menu items to rotating specials and updated safety protocols, there’s always something new to learn. Make this ongoing training process easy by offering clear and helpful training materials that provide the answers to all your employees’ questions.

  • Provide helpful training materials. Be sure to offer regularly-updated training materials to all employees so that they can provide the best possible service. Manuals with spiral binding and coil binding are easy to update when you want to add new pages to your manuals.
  • Increase accuracy by distributing job aids. Job aids are small cards that provide quick answers exactly when an employee needs them. From ingredient lists to common substitutions, job aids help all employees solve problems and answer questions quickly.

Let Us Help You Create the Perfect Server Orientation Packet

Since 1991, The Print Authority has helped restaurants of all sizes expertly train new employees. We help independent and chain restaurants develop top-quality printed materials, including server training checklist materials, that get all the employees on the same page, and we deliver products nationwide.

When you’re ready to take the first step to an improved restaurant, contact The Print Authority!