Digital Restaurant Checklist(s): Everything You Need to Know

Published on:
May 26, 2024
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We've all experienced it - kitchen mayhem, overlooked tasks, and an overall sense of disorder. 

For this reason, Digital checklists are rapidly becoming the new normal for high-performance restaurants. 

Why do you ask? Not only do they boost employee productivity and foster team accountability, but they also give management up-to-date insight into their stores.

What's more, franchisees and operators have found that the use of digital checklists directly correlates with revenue per store.

Today we will be discussing digital checklists for restaurants and how they improve the customer and restaurant staff’s experience altogether!

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What are Digital Restaurant Checklist?

Digital restaurant checklists are a helpful tool for operations management using digital forms/logs or templates. These productivity tools increase efficiency and standardize performance in service and safety helping GMs and shift leads with communication and manageability.

From managing stock to maintaining kitchen hygiene and food safety, there has to be a restaurant checklist for every facet of running the business.

The figures don't deceive: data is critical, and when this data is readily available for your team, being able to view this information in real time helps managers to train their team and and keep people on track for continuous improvement.

Controlling the details can convert a dining experience into something clean and smooth, something memorable. You can create an extraordinary dining experience for your guests and staff because every aspect of the operation is constantly being refined towards perfection.

Getting straight to the point, a digital checklist allows managers to impose their will without being there.

For example, As a GM, when you conduct your daily inspection, you notice that the walk-in fridge temperature is all over the place. Instead of having to constantly remind the staff to check the temperature, you can add a SOP that asks,

Is the walk-in fridge temperature within the safe range?

The appropriate staff member can then mark it as “yes” or “no,” giving you real-time visibility into your operations and allowing you to address any problems immediately. This is a big advantage that digital checklists have over paper-based systems.

However, that merely scratches the surface, let’s dig deep

What are the Benefits of Digital Checklists for Restaurants?

1. Eliminating the Guess Work

Digital checklists mitigate the need for guesses and assumptions in day-to-day restaurant BOH or FOH  activities. Via clear digital restaurant cleanliness checklists, shift managers can create a transparent plan that everyone knows and understands, ensuring that everybody is on the same page.

How many times have you gone to a restaurant and thought, ‘Who put the trash can in the middle of the dining area?’

Moreover, a simple checklist for janitorial personnel could stop the incident of employees incorrectly placing a trash can in a place it is not usually staged, ending the confusion and unwanted results that could take place.

2. Saves Money and Time  

In addition to eliminating the uncertainty, imagine how much more efficient you could be if you had a digital checklist for every task that your team member working on opening or closing the restaurant needed to do.

By breaking down tasks into simple, step-by-step procedures, you can save valuable time and resources in providing exceptional customer service and growing your business. With a checklist, you can ensure that every task is completed correctly and efficiently, reducing the risk of errors and mistakes

Not only this, according to the International Data Corporation, companies that fully embrace digital transformation may increase their productivity by up to 40 percent. Implementing digital checklists in your restaurant can significantly improve efficiency and productivity, leading to higher customer satisfaction and revenue increases.

3. Inspect What You Expect

The third major benefit of using checklists is that they provide an opportunity for you to inspect what you expect - to ensure that your processes are operating as designed. 

As a manager or a business owner, it’s your responsibility to guarantee that everything is being done up to your standard – from cleanliness to service standards, product quality to portion control, and of course, food safety.

But the power of digital restaurant checklists is that you can break any process down into simple, step-by-step tasks that are easily verifiable. And that makes it a whole lot easier to hold your employees accountable for their work.

Based on a Gallup survey, workers who are subjected to accountability are 26% more productive and 30% more profitable than those without (source: Gallup).

By utilizing restaurant digital checklists you will be able to streamline your operations, as well, as create accountability among your staff.

For instance, let’s say you have a digital checklist for opening the restaurant. 

On the bottom of the sheet, in an electronic form, or however, you require your team to verify and sign off on each task. 

Therefore, you know exactly who is responsible for what and when it was accomplished. Now everyone is in the know thus you can avoid employee theft and mismanagement. With digital checklists, you can quickly see, and verify that everything is being done to your standard.

4. Have Full Control of Multi-Location Restaurant

Companies with more tech-savvy operations enjoy a three-time higher revenue growth than the low-tech-savvy companies. 

Obtaining end-to-end visibility and control of your restaurant operations is necessary for growth.

Using digital checklists to achieve this, you can get real-time insights and dashboards that provide you with a bird’s eye view of multiple sites. This allows you to identify and correct downward performance trends before they impact your bottom line.

The real-time dashboard might depict 95% for Site A, 80% for Site B (required action), and 98% for Site C on food safety protocol compliance. Area managers can take immediate action to address Site B's issue and ensure all your sites continue to meet the highest standard and provide excellent experiences to your customers.

With its responsive dashboard and real-time insights, you can now add a new level of visibility and control to drive business success.

 How to Implement a Digital Checklist For Restaurants?

  1. Ensure Food and Health Safety Compliance 

Achieving compliance through effective recordkeeping is a daunting task.  

No one will argue this fact.  

But one of the major leaps in food safety came when governing regulatory bodies, like The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), started defining clear and robust compliance requirements.  While keeping up with those requirements can be a headache, it is critical to ensure your food safety initiatives are being followed.

Some tasks that should be included in your checklist are:

  • Regularly cleaning and sanitizing all equipment and surfaces.
  • HACCP, HIPPA, temperature monitoring, and other food safety logs
  • Properly controlling pests and waste.
  • Making sure employees maintain proper hygiene and properly wash their hands.
  1. Set Realistic Expectations 

As a Shift Lead, you understand the importance of staying on top of to-dos and ensuring your team is working effectively. 

But it’s just as important not to overload your team with too many tasks that can’t reasonably be done in a shift. When employees feel overwhelmed, they tend to become frustrated and uprooted. Mistakes ensue, work slows, and the environment turns noxious.

To prevent that from happening, it’s important to be realistic and transparent about just how much work people can complete in a given time frame. Take a closer look at your checklists. Prioritize and focus on what can be completed in a reasonable amount of time.

Divide and conquer - so start your shift by breaking down large tasks into manageable chunks and assigning yourself and your team specific goals. Get high-priority tasks tackled first and manage resources and time accordingly. 

Don’t forget to allow yourself a bit of cushion time for unforeseen tasks and interruptions. By being realistic about workloads and setting goals you can achieve, you'll be able to cut down on frustration and burnout. 

  1. Be Flexible 

When there is a sudden equipment malfunction, some General Managers (GMs) have a tough time dealing with it. Not everything will go the way you want at a restaurant. Remember to be able to switch things in your list if you have unexpected situations. There are a few examples that could happen:

  • Equipment doesn’t work or needs repairing
  • Staff doesn’t show up or too many call-ins
  • Delays in preparation that you can’t prevent
  • Changes in preparation or table inventory
  1. Keep Your Checklist Up-dated

To keep your list effective and ensure that new challenges and opportunities are seasonally addressed, review and update it regularly. 

For each item, try to tie in specific time frames like “before work every day” “monthly” or “annually” rather than simply saying regularly, which can get vague and lose meaning over time:

  • Seasonal menu changes and inventory updates
  • New employee training and onboarding
  • Changes in food safety regulations or guidelines
  • Customer feedback and satisfaction surveys

Some More Tips for GMs

  • Make sure your checklist follows the SMART criteria: specific, measurable, a
  • Align tasks with specific members of your team or their roles so nothing gets missed
  • Have a column titled “done” or “completed” so everyone can visually see what needs to be done yet
  • Continually and consistently go over this checklist with your team to align everyone

Try Xenia Digital Restaurant Checklists to Improve Operation Standardization

Xenia is a mobile-first operation execution platform that has built-in custom functionality to allow restaurants to knock down checklists and tasks quickly on the go.

Centralizing everything from Back of House (BOH) restaurant operations and front-end customer service, you’re not only streamlining your tasks. You’re increasing accountability across the boards, ultimately changing the way you will scale your business.

And that’s exactly where this end-to-end digital restaurant checklist app helps. Restaurateurs don’t want to have to individually set up work orders to address every back-of-house issue or front-of-house problem.

Xenia enables restaurant managers to log and track issues with ease, access a knowledge base of best practices and solutions, and automatically generate and retain records and documents, which leads to greater restaurant management efficiency.

That's just a glimpse of what this program can do. Let's take a closer look at how it simplifies tasks for GMs and shift leads.

  1. Restaurant Workflow Optimization Solution 

Xenia’s suite of templates and checklist builders offers all the tools needed to prioritize tasks and get started. Shift leads and GMs can customize and standardize checklists, logs, and SOPs for any scenario (maintenance, food safety, etc) using ready-to-use templates or starting from scratch. 

This enables a fast SOP rollout, with setup taking minutes not hours.

The app's mobile dashboard provides full visibility into your tasks and deadlines, so work won't fall through the cracks. With task management features, you can create, assign, and track tasks (or work orders) in seconds. This promotes performance and accountability, so you can provide a better customer experience. 

As tasks are completed by team members, they are updated in real time so that issues can be addressed swiftly as they arise. This immediate integration of scheduling, task management, and data collection allows you to move quickly and decisively to rectify anything that might diminish your customers' experience.

For instance, If a restaurant opening checklist shows a walk-in fridge temperature is off, a task can be assigned at that exact moment with a request for immediate corrective action. Automated log alerts to the management team to let them know to take prompt action to prevent food spoilage.

In addition, you can access precise and current temperature monitoring via Bluetooth thermometers and other IoT gadgets such as temperature sensors. This integration allows you to take quick and proactive steps to make sure that your customers get the best possible experience.

  1. Keep Records and Documentation of Sops 

As a restaurant shift lead, it’s imperative to swiftly recognize and react to issues. 

Regrettably, this is burdensome for many GMs who must wade through paperwork to make certain their SOPs are current or tested frequently. 

The digital checklist app for restaurants makes all of this effortless. Track repair history, maintenance schedules, and routine checks on one platform. Furthermore, the intuitive calendar view evaluates past performance and identifies areas for improvement instantaneously.

  1. Maintain Brand Unity 

Xenia’s capabilities extend to a much broader audience: home officers, district managers, regional managers, and franchise business consultants, in addition to general managers. 

When performing audits for specific restaurant chains, these professionals often have a challenging job to do in terms of back-office time management. 

Typically, 40 minutes are spent catching up with the GM, reviewing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and auditing paper logs with a thick red pen – a highly burdensome and time-consuming process.

Xenia makes this process easy and simple. 

With the ability to review recurring tasks and SOPs before you go into the restaurant even if you aren't physically present that day, gives you full visibility into brand procedures since your last visit. 

Being able to see all this information at a click, you can identify areas that need your improvement, making sure brand standards are being accomplished constantly throughout every single one of the locations.

For instance, if during the audit you observe a problem with bathroom cleanliness, you can keep track of historical performance for this particular question of the audit. 

You can also quickly take pictures and add remarks to better coach and train GMs. This lets you identify where you need targeted improvement and track it over time.

  1. Track Employee and Work Performance 

The mobile dashboard as well as the web portal provide essential metrics on critical areas such as task achievements. 

This not only serves to provide invaluable insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of your operation, but also allows you to evaluate the quality of work generated by your employees, ground areas that are in desperate need of improvement, and direct training to alleviate these distressed areas. 

Such metrics also allow you to create a data-driven system to assess the success of your shift managers, demonstrating which individuals are excelling and deserve the best reward and incentives.

Summing it Up 

The implementation of a digital checklist in your restaurant is far more than a technical improvement. It's a guarantee of sanity for managers. 

Having a dependable digital system allows every duty to be finished, verified, and on schedule. This saves time, which leads to more profits and possibly more orders. 

GMs and shift leads can have sureness running through each move they will make — resource checks, cleaning, and sanitation inventories — into the order of calendars that automatically check off completed items.

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