Running a Restaurant/EMPLOYEE MEALS


Hi Larry,
I manage a sit down family owned Italian restaurant in northern NY. we primarily sell pizza, calzones, strombolis and chicken wings. our menu goes full for eat in take out and delivery and is fairly large with about 130 different items to choose from including Alfredo, lasagna, and other homemade pasta dishes. my main issue with employee meals is that people are taking advantage of it. these meals will not make or break the restaurants pocket but the principle of them taking what they want is getting to become a larger issue than it has been in the past. Now generally myself and my boss(the owner) are here daily until 8 at night, and the daytime is not an issue but him afraid of what happens at nighttime. my question to you is how can i better regulate EVERYONE meal plan which is a meal and two drinks. i want to make everyone on the same page and figure out a way to set these meals to a certain way. we have a state of the art pos system but is there any other way than just doing things through the computer. i trust everyone but that could be a naive thought aswell. thank you

You have a very generous meal policy that I could envision being abused very easily. My restaurants have implemented a similar meal policy as follows:

Employees are entitled to one shift meal during an eight hour shift. The meal may be from a list of 8 approved regular menu items designated by management. The Chef may include a special on any given day.

An employee meal must be rung into the POS system at full price and comped by a manager. No food should be removed from the premises without the permission of a manager. No food should be consumed under any circumstances that doesn't have a valid ticket rung into the kitchen.

The above policy not only narrows what may be eaten, but insures the food is rung in and accounted for in our profit and loss records. In addition your chef/manager can have some latitude to offer left over specials for employee consumption that may otherwise be waste.

You mention employees are allowed two drinks. I hope those are non-alcoholic drinks. If not, you are taking a huge risk. I suggest you refer to your insurance policy and consult an attorney about free alcoholic beverages. The liability today is a very real issue.

Hope this helps.

Running a Restaurant

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Larry Edger


Multi concept restaurant owner. Just finished fourth restaurant. Can answer questions on all aspects of running, owning and starting a restaurant, cafe or hospitality operation. Enjoy helping other restaurant owners. Most "consultants" have no idea what a restaurant operator needs to be successful. Let me know if I can assist you finding answers to your operating and marketing questions. Accomplished chef and menu development a particular talent for upscale casual restaurants.


Owner and operator of several multi-concept restaurants. Successful entrepreneur, started businesses from scratch on many occasions. Know the problems with planning and running a restaurant. Always independent operations and not the product of chain restaurants.

As an author of The Restaurant Ebook, A Guide to Keeping Your Dream Off the Chopping Block, I have helped hundreds of restaurateurs to market and run a better restaurant.For more information visit or

Attended Ohio State University and have gone through many extended classes relating to marketing and management. Written many courses and training manuals.
Currently building fourth restaurant and created a blog to keep track of daily activities. Readers can see the various steps from leasing to opening. Visit

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