How to Run a Restaurant Pre Shift Meeting

Every restaurant should have a daily pre-shift meeting before each service and ideally you would have one for the kitchen and a separate one for the front of the house, because the BOH and FOH teams have different challenges and priorities. A good pre shift meeting communicates today’s goals, challenges, specials, company policy changes and other useful info to help your team be more successful & prepared for the day. Having a kitchen pre shift meeting form can help you layout your thoughts and plans for each shift.

Different operations will have different info to be covered at a kitchen pre shift meeting. Fast food operations may cover this week’s special promotions featured on social media, tv, or publications. The start and end of local sporting events or concerts could result in extra business before or after the event. Telling the team this helps them be mentally prepared for extra business.

A fine dining restaurant may also cover local events which may impact their business, but will also want to highlight appetizer, entrée, drink, dessert and other specials they may be running. Their pre service may include a plating demo for the cooks by the Chef, and the FOH pre service may include a sample dish for the servers to taste so they can better sell it to the guest.

Kitchen Pre-Service Form
an Excel Pre Shift Template – availability info below

What Should be Covered at a Kitchen Pre Shift Meeting?

While a pre service for the servers is generally shortly before meal service, a pre shift meeting for cooks should be within the first 30 minutes of the shift so they can better plan their day. They need to know early on how many covers to prep for, what to do if a piece of equipment is down, what the plan is if someone called out sick, etc. Having the pre shift early helps them know what to expect for the day (is going to be an easy or a hard day) so they can plan their prep and have time to mentally prepare for the day as well.

Pre-Shift Meeting Template using Word
a Word Document Pre Shift Form – availability info below

Here are some common topics to cover at a kitchen pre shift meeting:

Menu Items

  • soup, appetizer, entrée, dessert specials
  • specialty fresh produce and how to cook them properly
  • specialty seafood and how to cook them properly
  • specialty meats
  • low counts on menu items
  • substitutions or menu changes

Service Planning

  • number of reservations on the books
  • expected covers for the shift
  • VIPs
  • big tables
  • business flow, i.e. when are the busy times and slow times
  • is there a local event which may impact business (like before or after an event)
  • did someone call out? What is the plan to cover that station?
  • is a piece of equipment down? What is the plan?
  • do you anticipate a possible problem/challenge? What is plan “B” if that happens?

Team Member Recognition

  • recognize length of service (how long they have worked here)
  • recognize a major achievement (ex: Tim had zero steaks come back last night while working grill)
  • recognize a new habit or discipline you are teaching (ex: Chantelle had a perfect sear on all her scallops yesterday)

Excel Pre Shift Form
an Excel Pre Shift Form – availability info below

Company Policies and Promotions

Briefly mention new policies, benefits, promotions, SOP’s, etc which team members need to be made aware of. If you are trying to hold staff more accountable on specific things (such as cell phone use while at work) cover them clearly so the team knows what is expected and what the consequences are if rules are not followed. If you are having challenges with particular things which impact service cover them here. This may include:

  • break schedules for today
  • no breaks w/o a supervisor’s approval
  • cell phone use during service
  • call backs (i.e. responding to the wheelman when they call a ticket)
  • over cooking/under cooking of a specific menu item
  • closing tasks which are being missed
  • letting chef know if you are getting low on an item during service (don’t just 86 it!)
  • anything from the Kitchen Code which is appropriate for your venue
  • new HR policies
  • cleaning assignments

The Excel pre service meeting forms and Word pre service template is available to all Paid Subscribers.

Excel & Word Pre Shift Meeting Forms available to Paid Subscribers
(Premium Membership required)

Microsoft Excel and Word are required (not included)


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