HACCP plan

How to open a restaurant that meets food safety standards in 10 steps

Making a new food business compliant from the start is the most important. You can have it all: the best interior ...

Making a new food business compliant from the start is the most important. You can have it all: the best interior design, the coolest menu concept, a framed trading licence, a good location, and your initial funding – but if you are not operating fully within the law from the food safety aspect, and not taking food safety hazards into account, the joy of opening a restaurant will turn out to be short-lived.

If you want to know how to open a food business that meets all food safety laws, check out our checklist for opening a restaurant and become compliant from the start. Here is all you need to know about food safety standards and the food safety management system required to open your dream restaurant, burger truck, or cafe.

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10 steps to opening a restaurant

At the core of operating a compliant restaurant lies the HACCP plan. HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a standardized tool and a strategic plan for every food business in the food industry. The HACCP plan validates – through following the HACCP principles – that all food cooked, served, and consumed, is safe to eat. From management to cleaning procedures, it helps to keep food that you handle, safe – and your customers coming back for more! As soon as your HACCP plan is ready, your business will be ready to take off safely.

All the steps in this opening a restaurant checklist make up your restaurant HACCP plan. By following these 10 steps to opening a restaurant, you will keep your possible safety hazards to a minimum.


  1. Design your workflow.

Map out the layout of your premises and have a look at the complete structure of the building. Is the building suitable for a restaurant? To meet the criteria, your kitchen needs to be big enough so that equipment will not be cluttered. The waste area needs to be separate from the food production and the food delivery areas. The latter should also be easily accessible. The raw and high-risk food preparation areas need to be clearly identified and separated from the ready-to-eat foods.

In other words, you need to design your premises for efficient and safe food production. This helps to avoid the food safety hazard of cross-contamination, keep your staff happy, and will make running an efficient kitchen a lot smoother.


2. Know your equipment.

According to HACCP principles, it is important to understand your equipment: how to use it, clean it, and sanitize it. Kitchen equipment can break or become a safety hazard if used incorrectly, so teach your staff to use it properly. 


3. Set up pest control.

Depending on your business size and your location (climate), you might need weekly, monthly, or bi-annual pest control. If you are a small business and don’t want to sign a contract with a pest control company, you need to create your own pest control plan (an action plan and a corrective plan).


4. Get to grips with waste management.

Write down all the procedures related to waste management. This will help to ensure that you have sufficient waste storage, the trash bins you need, that the bins are taken out safely, and that nothing gets left behind overnight.


5. Use and store cleaning chemicals correctly.

To guarantee safe food handling, ensure that you know how to use and store your cleaning chemicals. (Trust us, there are plenty of stories of degreaser ending up on the floors and ruining the day for everyone!) Have your staff undergo training on how to safely store cleaning chemicals. It helps to ensure that everyone uses the correct contact times with the surface and that no dangerous chemical ever gets close to food.


6. Manage those allergens.

As a food business, you are legally required to accurately inform customers about allergens in the food you sell. This is why allergen training is compulsory for all restaurant employees. If you sell anything containing allergens, all the information related to them needs to be tracked accurately. Letting a customer unknowingly consume food they’re allergic to is a serious food safety offence as it can be extremely dangerous or even lethal to that person. So, when creating a menu, create an allergy chart (also called a matrix) for your menu items, and ensure that your staff knows how to read it correctly.


7. Ace your supplier management.

Knowing where your ingredients come from and only signing contracts with suppliers who can provide full traceability (from transport routes to freezing procedures and expiry dates) will help to avoid unnecessary food safety surprises.


8. Hire the right people and give them the correct training.

To follow HACCP principles, ensure that your staff training remains up to date in the following areas:

  • Food hygiene
  • Manual and safe food handling
  • Using and storing chemicals
  • Allergen management
  • Sickness procedures
  • Personal hygiene

Poor personal hygiene is one of the biggest causes of food poisoning. This is why all employees need to report any illness to their manager and stay away from work until all symptoms of illness have disappeared.


9. Have your Food Safety Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) solidly in place.

SOPs are written practices and procedures that are critical to producing safe food. Everyone working in your restaurant kitchen needs to follow SOPs to work efficiently and to keep food safety hazards to a minimum. It is best to have the operating procedures printed out so that everyone can easily see them.

These procedures include but are not limited to:

  • How to handle and store the food you sell (including how to pour drinks)
  • How to wash hands
  • How to wash fruits and vegetables
  • Reheating Potentially Hazardous Foods
  • Preventing cross-contamination during storage and preparation
  • Controlling time and temperature during food preparation
  • Using suitable utensils to handle ready-to-eat foods


10. In the past, you would need to pay a food consultant to compile all the previous steps to create your HACCP plan. (Or wrestle with the plan yourself for a few months.)

Now, smart AI is here to take care of it all! FoodDocs can create a sample HACCP plan for a restaurant by asking you 8 simple questions. You must select the answers that best describe your business, and within 1 hour, you will have a HACCP plan ready. The HACCP plan created by FoodDocs meets all the legal requirements, can be submitted to your local authority, and is internationally qualified. Now, you are ready to run your restaurant in accordance with the food safety laws!

The other good news is that you don’t have to tackle all these steps on paper only to be left taking care of a dusty (and dirty!) 100-page paper folder. FoodDocs’ digital food safety management system enables you to have all your procedures, temperature records, monitoring sheets, and training certificates in one place. You will also get automated notifications to help ensure there are no gaps in the documentation.

It is this smart digital solution that helps you pull off a feat that can, at a first glance, seem impossible! Like the moment when you don’t just need a restaurant HACCP plan but you need plans for 7 of them – and ASAP.

opening a restaurant that meets food safety standards

How Dussmann opened 7 restaurants in 2 weeks

Dussmann is one of the most well-known food suppliers for schools and kindergartens in Europe. Operating in a total of 19 countries while providing food to many sites across the continent, they have experienced their share of food safety challenges and sought out the best solutions to stay on top of their game.

Often, especially in the fall when schools and kindergartens are re-opening after their summer break, Dussmann must compile HACCP plans for 10 new locations at very short notice. Back in the day, compiling a single HACCP plan could take several weeks. “It takes time to find all the required documents, establish a monitoring system (with all daily tasks) and create risk assessments,” states Dussmann’s development manager in Estonia, Kristjan Põder.

When the company suddenly faced a situation where they needed to open 7 restaurants in 2 weeks, they had to rethink their tools or turn down some of the jobs. They decided to switch to FoodDocs to provide a sample HACCP plan for the restaurants, and that’s the day everything changed. Dussmann can now create a HACCP plan that is fully compliant with food safety laws in 1 hour, and they don’t have to turn down any schools or kindergartens. They still have plenty of time to spend on other important duties as well. Everyone wins.

The world is once again looking hopeful. Despite the setbacks and challenges, we have faced since the spring of 2020, restaurants and the food industry continue to be one of the highlights of the cultural experience and an important part of the economy. As you are most likely highly aware of how much it costs to open a restaurant, making your business compliant is the best insurance against avoidable mishaps and foodborne illnesses.

As our needs and interests change, take-away businesses, restaurants and eateries change with them, taking advantage of new avenues that are opening up. By using the 10 steps outlined in our restaurant opening guide, you can open your restaurant confident that everything on your menu will be as tasty and as safe as possible.

Start creating HACCP  

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