Breaking into the Restaurant Industry: Security Strategy

Restaurant security issues include employee theft, violence on the premises, armed robbery and theft of credit card information. Restaurants handle lots of cash and credit transactions each day. Fast food operations are at greater risk for robberies while upscale operations are more likely to suffer from fraud, employee theft and other security breaches.

Hardware for Restaurant Security

Fire alarm systems, POS systems and closed-circuit television monitoring generate complex wiring. Restaurateurs or managers can plan for wiring accessibility during the design process. Other security issues often involve hardware.

  • Fire control systems include sprinklers, smoke alarms, manual controls, portable fire extinguishers and monitoring and suppression systems.
  • Security companies often handle both burglary and fire prevention and monitoring.
  • Safety glass helps to deter break-ins.
  • Adequate interior and exterior lighting illuminates dark areas where criminals might lurk or use as cover to commit security breaches.
  • Pay attention to receiving areas, and install burglary-resistant gates or overhead doors with padlocks.
  • Video cameras, motion detectors and alarm systems only work as well as the people who operate them, so train staff in proper procedures.

Security Staff

Security guards have become increasingly essential in high-volume restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Hospitality venues not only risk theft but also face legal liability for employee violence, customer violence and other security issues.

  • Violence might involve customers or employees.
  • On-duty managers can help to defuse altercations.
  • Violence also occurs in parking lots and adjacent property where gangs, thieves, underage kids and undesirables might gather to hassle customers.
  • Regular monitoring of areas around a restaurant can spot potential trouble before it escalates.

Software for Restaurant Security Protection

Criminals target both chain restaurants and independent eateries through data mining, hacking and network Internet connections. Installing strong online security programs helps to prevent data and identity theft, phishing and other digital intrusions.

  • Limit remote and authorized access, and make sure that managers use strong passwords and change them frequently.
  • Encrypt all credit-card and email-list information and transmissions.
  • Segment networks by using virtual networks or separate LANs for POS systems, digital signs, Wi-Fi and security.
  • Keep software updated regularly to minimize weaknesses and keep current with system patches and new viruses.
  • Conduct regular scans for system vulnerabilities.

Best Security Practices

Most states enforce common law that requires restaurant operators to provide reasonable security measures. Failing to provide adequate security could result in negligence lawsuits, and security measures include robbery prevention since robberies are common and foreseeable.

The best security practices include setting clear rules of employee behavior and developing strategies for dealing with unruly customers. Let employees know that honesty is expected and that all losses will be reported to the police. Prosecute all crimes in the restaurant consistently to reinforce company policies.

Discouraging theft begins proactively by limiting opportunities, screening employees and training staff in how to operate and use security equipment and prevent robberies. Best restaurant security practices include:

  • Monitoring and maintaining alarm systems and surveillance systems
  • Training authorized staff in how to set and disarm alarms
  • Ensuring that walk-in coolers and freezers open from the inside
  • Never allowing one staff member to handle cash out-of-sight
  • Using a buddy system for opening and closing duties
  • Changing safe combinations each time an employee with access leaves the company
  • Removing wheels from safes
  • Depositing accumulated cash in safes regularly
  • Making bank deposits of cash each day by following a procedure that minimizes risks such as varying times and making cash bags inconspicuous
  • Using time-delayed safes
  • Using a POS system or other inventory software to spot unexplained internal losses and waste

Eating and drinking businesses are the largest single retail industry, and one out of three adults dines at a restaurant each day. Restaurants comprise an overwhelming percentage of cash-based businesses, so robbers naturally target these companies. Restaurateurs can minimize risks by developing sound and safe policies and protecting operations with security systems, staff training and vetting, and security software.