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Restaurant Security: Complete Guide for New Restaurant Owners

Discover best practices for enhancing your restaurant security, from responsible alcohol service and preventing employee theft to using smart alarms and access control.

5 minsAugust 31, 2023

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As you open your new restaurant, keeping your establishment secure is crucial to its success. You need to take steps to safeguard your staff, customers, data, and property, from smart access controls to theft prevention. Read our comprehensive guide to learn how you can boost restaurant security and create a safe environment for everyone.

Nine Essential Restaurant Security Protocols

Ensuring customer and staff safety in your restaurant is crucial. You'll also need to secure the restaurant property and your business's private data.

1. Elevating Restaurant Security: Ethical Alcohol Service Practices

Alcohol is a potential security concern as intoxication is a factor in many violent crimes. Your restaurant staff should be knowledgeable about responsible alcohol service and liquor liability. Serving alcohol to visibly drunk customers is illegal in many states, as it can escalate disruptive behavior toward staff and other customers. Similarly, serving underage customers is prohibited.

The TIPS alcohol training program provides a recognized solution. This course is mandatory for those handling alcohol, teaching safety measures like ID verification and alcohol measurement. It also equips staff with strategies for handling intoxicated customers appropriately.

2. Reinforcing Restaurant Security: Smart Alarm Systems

Enhance restaurant security with advanced smart alarm systems that surpass the basics. Start with smart smoke detectors triggering automatic fire department calls during emergencies, ensuring a swift response for safety.

Utilize panic buttons discreetly placed for immediate help, boosting staff confidence and adding an extra layer of protection.

Explore smart alarm systems featuring access control, like biometric or keycard systems, preventing unauthorized entry in specific areas.

Reputable options include:

  • CPI Business with video monitoring and temperature alerts
  • ADT Commercial, offering customizable security with access control, trespassing detection, and fire safety, and
  • Stanley Security Systems providing access control, trespassing detection, panic buttons, and silent alarms.

Implement these smart security measures to deter issues and create a robust network safeguarding staff, customers, and property.

3. Boosting Restaurant Security: Innovations in Access Control Systems

Enhance restaurant security with effective access control, like keypad systems for secondary entrances and staff spaces. Assign room access to specific employees for controlled entry.

Choose a keypad system that integrates with a mobile app, granting access via PIN or smartphones.

For various keypad options consider providers such as:

7. Elevate Restaurant Security: Implement Credit Card and Fraud Protection

Credit card scams and fraud pose a threat to customer and staff information. Cyber liability laws can hold your restaurant accountable for outdated security. While consulting a specialist enhances restaurant security, you can also take these steps to prevent fraud:

  • Seek expert guidance for PCI compliance.

  • Implement an advanced POS system for secure credit card processing.

  • Restrict credit and debit card access to authorized personnel.

  • Opt for tableside processing to maintain card visibility.

  • Avoid storing customers' credit card data.

  • Upgrade card readers to EMV chip-and-PIN technology.

  • Streamline transactions with a cardless tab system.

  • Fortify Wi-Fi access with a robust firewall.

  • Use reputable antivirus software for protection.

  • Employ strong, updated passwords.

  • Maintain comprehensive records for potential audits.

8. Choose a Secure Safe for Enhanced Restaurant Security

Restaurants often store cash, making them targets for thieves. A heavy-duty safe protects cash and valuables.

Choose a sturdy safe within your budget, ensuring a drop feature to prevent unauthorized access. Have a professional install the safe visibly to deter thieves.

What to Look for in a Safe

  • Size and Capacity: Ensure the safe accommodates cash, documents, and small valuables.

  • Locking Mechanism: Opt for strong options like combination, electronic keypad, or biometric locks.

  • Fire and Water Resistance: Choose a safe that guards against disasters.

  • Solid Construction: Durable steel construction resists tampering and break-ins.

  • Mounting Options: Securely anchor the safe to the floor or wall.

  • Security Ratings: Look for safes with recognized security ratings.

  • Additional Features: Some safes have internal LED lighting, removable shelves, and audit trail capabilities.

Where to Purchase a Safe for Your Restaurant

You can discover heavy-duty safes across various price ranges from reputable retailers like Amazon, Home Depot, and Walmart, simplifying the process of acquiring one for your restaurant.

For budget-friendly security, consider the AmazonBasics Security Safe Box. The Home Depot's SentrySafe offers protection within the $100 to $300 range. If you're willing to invest more, the Barska Biometric Safe with a fingerprint scanner is a durable option available at Walmart.

Remember to research and select a safe tailored to your needs, ensuring the necessary security for your restaurant's valuables. Always buy from trustworthy sources and incorporate installation and maintenance into your security strategy.

9. Freezers and Coolers: Ensuring Restaurant Security

You can utilize freezers and cooler rooms as safe spaces during emergencies. Implement essential security measures for specific areas:

  • Quick Exit Accessibility: Ensure these spaces can be unlocked from the inside for swift staff exits.

  • Emergency Alarms or Communication Devices: Install alarms or communication tools inside for rapid assistance and vital information sharing during distress.
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Prevent Employee Theft with Six Strategies

Increase restaurant security by understanding and preventing employee theft with six simple strategies:

1. Short Ringing

Short ringing is when an employee lowers the price of an item in the POS system and keeps the difference.

Prevent employee theft by implementing itemized receipts and regularly reviewing sales data. Require managerial approval for voided transactions to identify any discrepancies.

2. Food Theft and Drink Manipulation

The term food theft refers to when an employee eats or steals food and offers free menu items to friends. Drink manipulation is the act of overpouring drinks to encourage higher tips.

Set clear staff meal guidelines, limit food consumption during shifts, and enforce policies against giving free items or overpouring drinks. Regularly compare inventory to sales records.

3. Short Pours and Watered-Down Drinks

Some bartenders underpour drinks or bring their own bottles and pocket the difference.

Prevent underpouring by enforcing standardized pouring measurements, training bartenders on proper techniques, and monitoring drink sales for unusual patterns.

4. Voided Transactions

Another potential form of theft is when an employee voids out a few transactions at the end of their shift and keeps the cash.

Use a POS system that tracks voided transactions and requires managerial approval. Conduct audits to ensure accountability and provide comprehensive POS training.

5. Tip Raising

Tip raising is the act of adding the tip after the customer signs for the transaction, and this can hurt your restaurant's reputation.

Utilize a POS system generating receipts with tip amounts included. Ensure customers sign receipts before processing transactions. Cross-reference recorded tips with the tips actually collected and encourage customers to review bank statements.

6. Falsely Reporting Dine and Dashes

This is when an employee falsely reports a customer not paying and pocketing the cash.

Establish a procedure for dine and dash incidents with thorough documentation. Require managerial verification before writing off unpaid bills and prompt communication to prevent manipulation.

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Boost Employee Satisfaction to Enhance Your Restaurant Security

Factors like low wages and poor working conditions can contribute to employee theft. Creating a positive work environment can improve company morale and enhance restaurant security:

  1. Provide Meals: Develop a food plan with affordable choices that match preferences, reducing food theft temptation.

  1. Offer Refreshments: Provide water, soda, and coffee during shifts to discourage sneaky behavior.

  1. Incentivize Performance: Reward high-performing employees with incentives like gift cards or free meals. Acknowledge excellent service observed through video feeds or "secret shopper" checks.

  1. Involve Employees: Seek input on menus, events, and improvements to make employees feel valued and bring helpful changes.

  1. Create Relaxing Areas: Design indoor and outdoor break spots for employees to unwind.

  1. Lead by Example: Collaborate with the team in different roles to improve processes and earn respect.

  1. Promote Work-Life Balance: Use online scheduling systems to trade shifts and request time off. Utilize POS sales data to avoid staffing imbalances.

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Bonus Restaurant Security Tips: At No-Cost

Besides expensive options like cameras, there are cost-effective ways to boost restaurant security.

  • Clear entrances to keep criminals from hiding.
  • Keep lights high and out of reach.
  • Provide well-lit parking spaces.
  • Make an emergency plan.
  • Stock the first-aid kit.
  • Use a buddy system for employees.
  • Check bathrooms, stairwells, and hallways before closing.
  • Encourage employees to leave valuables or large amounts of cash at home.
  • Use clear trash bags to discourage theft.
  • Frequently update passwords and codes for alarm and POS systems.
  • Deposit funds at different times.
  • Consider hiring an armored service to deposit funds.
  • Copy important information and take pictures of expensive equipment, storing the documents off-site.
  • Check information about potential new employees.
  • Have all employees sign an honest-policy waiver upon hiring.

As a new restaurant owner, prioritizing the safety and security of your restaurant, staff, and customers is crucial. Implementing responsible alcohol service, smart technology, proper lighting, credit card fraud prevention, and employee theft solutions can help create a comprehensive shield to protect your business.

Taking proactive steps towards robust restaurant security can help safeguard your success and provide a welcoming environment for everyone.


  1. Strengthen Physical and Digital Security: Regularly inspect doors, windows, and locks for optimal function. Safeguard digital systems by updating computer security measures.

  1. Protect Your Valuables: Secure valuable ingredients and equipment when not in use. Implement a tracking system to prevent theft or loss.

  1. Ensure Private Data Protection: Use secure payment systems to safeguard customer information. Maintain up-to-date computer systems to prevent cyber threats.

  1. Prioritize Responsible Alcohol Service: Enroll all alcohol-handling staff in the TIPS program. Rigorously verify customer ages to enhance safety and compliance.

  1. Upgrade Safety Measures: Invest in smart alarm systems with advanced features. Install panic buttons for discreet staff communication during emergencies.

  1. Implement Smart Access Control: Employ biometric or keycard systems to restrict unauthorized access. Enhance security by using keypad entry systems for designated areas.

  1. Boost Sales Insight and Inventory Control: Choose a modern POS system to detect potential fraud and discrepancies. Maintain accurate inventory records to streamline operations.

  1. Integrate Cameras Strategically: Place cameras at key entry points and high-traffic areas. Combine POS and security systems for efficient issue resolution.

  1. Illuminate Inside and Out: Ensure well-lit entrances, parking areas, and customer zones. Utilize motion-sensor lights for energy-efficient indoor illumination.

  1. Nurture Employee Satisfaction: Create a meal plan that caters to staff food preferences. Provide complimentary drinks during shifts and offer incentives for excellence.

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