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Restaurant Security: What to Know and What to Do

Plate of Lamb Chops in a fancy restaurant setting

Owning a restaurant is a huge endeavor, with a staggering number of details to manage. If you’re like most restaurateurs in Houston, you’d rather think about your menu than about locksmiths and alarm systems. However, crime is a serious threat to the foodservice industry. Registers filled with cash and envelopes stuffed with tips are very tempting to many thieves. You need to constantly be on top of security in your restaurant, or your business – not to mention your customers and employees – are at risk.

So how do you do this? Of course, you should definitely consult a commercial security professional about any concerns you have or measures you’re thinking of taking. To get started though, you can get a sense of whether your restaurant is in danger, and what you can do to protect it.

Risk assessment for restaurants

Not every restaurant is at equal risk. In general, quick-service restaurants, establishments that are open at late hours and ones that serve alcohol are the most likely to be targeted by burglars and thieves. However, there are other factors to consider.

Location is always key. If your restaurant is in a sketchy neighborhood, you should consider extra security precautions. Late hours are another high risk factor. Make sure you have peak security for the night, especially around closing time.

Does your restaurant have a large storefront window? This is a vulnerable point! Use Plexiglas, tempered glass or another reinforced alternative to prevent criminals from smashing it.

Locks, alarms and more: where to start?

A security system is a must-have for any modern restaurant. Don’t be shy, make it obvious that your premises are protected! Put up stickers from the security company, and place CCTV cameras in clearly visible positions. As well as acting as a strong deterrent against crime, cameras are great for recording any problem customers and the details of any incidents.

Alarms are very important, as these can stop a would-be burglar in his tracks. Just make sure that whatever security system you choose, you have it installed by a qualified expert so it doesn’t interfere with the other electrical systems in your restaurant.

You should have good lighting outside the entrance, both for your customers’ comfort and so potential troublemakers don’t feel like they can get away with anything unseen.

As for the less high-tech side, commercial locksmiths in Houston always recommend that business owners use only certified high security locks. You need something that can’t be picked, bumped or broken, not just any old lock.

Finally, make sure to store most of the restaurant’s cash in a locked safe. Keeping large amounts of cash (more than maybe $200) in the register is a high liability and puts your employees at risk.

Good practices for safe restaurants

Simply being careful and conscientious, and training your employees to do the same, can be as effective as any technology. Encourage your waiters to be constantly aware, keeping an eye out for any potential problems. Ask them to note the details of any suspicious person and the license plate of their car.

Safety in numbers is a good general rule. Try to avoid anyone being at the restaurant alone, and in particular, always have at least two employees work at opening and closing times. Employees should also always be together when moving cash from the register to the safe (which should be done frequently.)

Unfortunately, many incidents of theft and robbery in restaurants involve employees or former employees. Screen your candidates carefully when looking to hire someone, and try to get to know them personally. Having clear policies and strong consequences go a long way towards protecting against internal theft. However, your employees should still feel like you trust and respect them, so they’re happy and loyal to the business.

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