Restaurant Business Continuity

If you run a restaurant your business continuity plans need to ensure you keep your paying clients happy and your premises available.

A recent request on LinkedIn for business continuity advice for restaurants and catering outlets went completely unanswered, so we decided to respond by collating the information for this article.  It includes a case study of a restaurant fire, general business continuity advice, some security issues for consideration and links to sample plans.

When you think about it, running a restaurant is a constant exercise in business continuity management.   Most usually, a restaurant business is in a public place and invites unknown people onto the premises all day every day.  It generally has staff working on shifts as well as those working office hours, relies on information technology for ordering, stock management and administration, and has a decent supply chain to consider.

And, given there are so many  of them, you’d think that Google would have a lot of advice for anyone seeking business continuity for restaurant management, wouldn’t you?  But specifically tailored information is actually quite scarce.  For ease, we’ve collaged a lot of it here in one place.

We also point out that there are business opportunities for restaurants in terms of supportin the business continuity plans of businesses in your area.  If you can provide catering facilities or  a recovery location to a large local business as part of their business continuity plans, you may be able to charge a small retainer for the service or agree a good rate for services that you can provide for them in advance of any issues occurring.

Restaurants can make use of all general business continuity advice: it’s usually created to work for any business, including catering, customer facing and public service establishments.  So advice such as BS25999, ISO22301 and any number of books on Amazon are available; browsing websites like this one, which is aimed at those looking for more straightforward advice is also useful.  Key areas to consider might include:

  • Front of house systems
  • Back of house systems
  • Information technology (computer and telecom based systems)
  • Engineering technology (kit and equipment)
  • Supply chain continuity
  • Staff availability
  • Contingency strategies
  • Insurance

You will also need to consider issues specific to your industry. For example:

  • Legal regulations
  • Local obligations
  • Food safety
  • Customer service management
  • Booking systems
  • Shift workers
  • Local health departments

Do a quick google search and subscribe to get alerts from your local and national organisations for:

  • Food safety news
  • Health protection agencies
  • Local authority
  • Google alerts – customise what you want sent to your inbox on an immediate, daily or weekly basis

Other very specific information to support your efforts is also available.  Though some of the following is created by public service organisations in a particular country, the advice is relevant for nearly everyone.

For example:

The state of Louisiana in the USA offers advice to restaurants in the state which is particularly useful for those with severe weather issues on their risk registers.  It’s called Do You Have a Gameplan? and they offer more supporting advice in their Get Me A Plan resource

The UK counter terror organisation, NATSCO, suggests you consider the following issues:

  • Managing risk
  • Security planning
  • Physical security
  • Good housekeeping
  • Access control
  • CCTV guidance
  • Mail handling
  • Search planning
  • Evacuation planning
  • Personnel security
  • Information security
  • Suicide attacks
  • Weapon attacks
  • Communication
  • Hostile reconnaissance
  • High profile events
  • Threat levels

Their booklet, Counter Terrorism Protective Security Advice for Hotels and Restaurants, provides a lot of information and some rather good checklists.

Case studies are also available for business continuity in the restaurant trade.  We found the following useful:

  • Starbucks share their business continuity planning learning and offer free powerpoint slides.  Read more here.
  • Restaurant fire in Chiswick, London, causes over £140,000 worth of lost sales; staff lost tips while the premises was closed.  Read more here.
  • A ski resort suffered a breakout of E, coli poisoning and recorded their learning.  Read more here.
  • A Wendy’s customer claimed to find half a finger in a cup of chilli and, some say, didn’t handle it very well.  Read more here.
  • Burger King prepared a crisis communication plan that could be used in any situation in response to a video of an employee bathing in one of the restaurant sinks.  They share the plan and the story behind it.  Read more here (and see the original video below).

At an academic level, there are a few papers available for free (many academic papers are charged for).  The free ones include:

In terms of creating your plan, don’t forget you will need to do the basics:

  • Review your risk assessment
  • Create a business impact analysis
  • Decide on your continuity strategies
  • Draft the plan(s)
  • Work with staff to raise awareness of the plans
  • Review and revise the plans on a continual basis

If you’re not sure how to go about this, sign up for our free online course by popping your email address in the box at the top right of this page.

You can also find links to advice for planning here:

And remember there are often free exercises available to you to download on the internet.  These include:

And finally, there ‘s a really useful article available with advice and instructions on how to watch what others are saying about you, particularly online, and how to engage with good and bad feedback and reviews in this Open Forum guide.

We hope this helps.

Please note any other resources that you’ve come across in the comments box to share them with others.

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