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Restaurants: Do you have a nightly closing checklist?

A restaurant closing checklist is a list of tasks, to be completed by restaurant staff at the end of the workday.  You can provide this checklist either as a printed list, or as a digital form that can be completed and submitted.

While many closing checklists focus on the cleanliness of the restaurant, a few items should be included to help prevent fires and other insurance claims from occurring.

Why is a checklist important

There is on average 7,410 structure fire each year at restaurants and bars. 28% of these occur when many restaurants are closed, between midnight and 6am.  Additionally, when no one is on premises, overflowing water fixtures, such as sinks and toilets go unchecked longer, which can lead to substantial property damage before they are detected in the morning.

What can restaurant owners do to reduce their risk

Creating, or adding a few extra items to your nightly closing checklist can go a long way in preventing property damage occurring overnight.  Here are a few ideas:


To reduce fires, consider including these closing tasks:

  • General Dining Area:
    • Extinguish candles with a snuffer, not by blowing them out.
    • Ensure curtains, table clothes and other combustible materials are at least 18 inches from heating ducts
    • If smoking is allowed, empty ashtrays into tin cans with lids and place outside. Do not mix ash with other trash or dispose of ash into general trash bins.
  • Restrooms
    • Check the restrooms for signs of smoking, even if smoking is prohibited in your restaurant.
    • Be sure to check the smoke detectors in the restrooms for signs of tampering. If smoking is not allowed inside, smoke detectors might have been disabled to hide that someone had been smoking.
  • Kitchen
    • Shutdown all cooking equipment and remain onsite until surfaces cool
    • Check exhaust hoods for buildup of grease and ensure they are turned off
    • Empty grease into a metal can with a lid and remove from area
  • Miscellaneous
    • Inspect the exterior to ensure nothing combustible has been piled up against the building

Water Damage

To reduce the chance of water damage, include these closing tasks

  • Restrooms
    • Check toilets and sink to ensure water is not running
  • Kitchen
    • Turn off faucets and check sinks for proper draining
    • Wait for dishwashing machines to complete their cycles and verify they have shut down
  • Miscellaneous
    • Make sure all windows are closed securely (and locked!) to prevent rain from coming inside

Running a restaurant requires a team effort.  With many staff working together to get home after the restaurant is closed, some items may be overlooked or assumed to have been completed by another staff member.  Creating checklists that employees must complete and sign off at the end of each day helps make sure that no task, big or small, is forgotten.

Concklin Insurance Agency’s mission is to eliminate gaps in coverage and reduce claims through loss mitigation and risk management. For more tips and ways to mitigate loss at your restaurant, visit our website or talk to one of our knowledgeable, trusted insurance advisors.