Staff meals, what do you do?

Joined Jan 11, 2011
Long story short, several years ago the owner got stupid at at FOH meeting and told the waitstaff they could have anything they want for their meal breaks. After going through a case of 14 oz. NY strips that first night he quickly modified the policy to exclude steaks, shrimps, and prime rib.

As you can imagine this has been a major wedge between FOH and BOH ever since, with the servers routinely making ridiculous demands for their meals. Lately they have even started demanding items not on the menu.

So how do you guys handle your staff meals? Me, I would prefer to just go to a 25% discount or something along those lines. That way they could still have their meals and neither the BOH or the food cost would get hammered the way it is now, but I'm reluctant to approach ownership without more info.

Any consensus out there?
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I let our employees eat whatever they want, but we have all lower cost items. I would set up a employee menu with 5 to 7 items that are lower cost. I think things like Chicken Caesar salad, Bacon Cheeseburger, Grilled Chicken sandwich, things like that. Some Houses make a employee meal special, I would say whatever works for your operation.
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Joined Apr 3, 2010
Never in my 50+ years in the business did I ever work in a place that permitted staff to eat steak,or any real hi cost item. There is no law that says you have to feed them. I feed them what was left from banquets day before., or pizza, oe salad, or pasta. No matter what you feed staff anyplace, anywhere they will  always complain.
Joined Jan 29, 2011
you make one big staff meal once or twice a day, say breakfast and an early dinner before service. use leftovers and cheap items. they get what they get; if they don't like it they can eat at home. no matter what you do someone will whine about it and there is no law stating you must feed them. in cases where there is a daily staff meal some employers will deduct a minimal amount from the paychecks for each shift worked. ours is $1.50 per shift. it doesn't account for the entire cost of the meal but it makes the owner feel better about giving food away. 
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Joined Apr 3, 2010
The owner allso writes employees meals off as a loss even though they charge  $1.50
Joined Jan 2, 2011
We get $8.00 for regular shift. Two dollars more for 10 hours.  If I pay cash, I get 25% off.  Got to love union jobs./img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
Joined May 17, 2010
We cook 2 family meals a day. The lunch shift gets one based on eggs and dinner shift gets one primarily based on chicken. Not sure what they do in the a.m., but i've heard of frittatas, omelettes, "skillet scrambles" an so on.

For the dinner shift we have recently made:

penne with italian sauce, chicken and red sauce

lunch's soup of the day with a salad

roasted pork loin with mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts

many different varieties of tacos mostly with chicken, sometimes pork These are the most popular

pulled pork sandwiches

fried chicken with mac n cheese

chicken and andouille jambalaya

stir fry-chicken, bok choy, carrots, red onion, red pepper and jasmine rice

chicken marsala with penne and of course shrooms

sandwiches on focaccia with ham, turkey, provolone, tomato, red onion, lettuce and salad

It is most often prepared by the grill cook who doesn't have much in the way of prep. Family meal is always ready at 4:30 everyday. The owner may not pay well, but he makes sure we're fed well.
Joined Feb 12, 2011
We do exactly like Chefdb & Piratechef.  I generally just raid the coolers & move product that needs to go. I also save leftovers from banquets & serve them next day. I stick to cheap stuff like chicken, sausage, pasta, etc.  We do 1 meal @ 3:00 where everybody sits down & eats front & back. Anytime I am not using leftovers, I log what was used so they can account for it when determining food cost.  People who miss lunch are welcome to order from the menu before or after their shift. 50% off. Excluding steaks & other high-cost items,

Also, no matter what I do, someone is gonna complain. I tell them that they don't have to eat if they don't want to  ;-)
Joined Apr 2, 2007
I just finished working at a place where I was averaging 300 cover per week, it is a family run busines, a family of five who eat anything they want twice a day, in short they eat 25% of the food. Guess what? they could not afford to keep me on.

In previous jobs including my current one I have introduced a staff meal policy which goes something like this;

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Staff Meal Policy

Date of issue: September 2009

In the absence of any existing Meal Policy it has been decided to introduce the following to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and to avoid having a negative impact on the business. It will be monitored and must be adhered to at all times.

·       Anyone who works a minimum of four hours over a lunch or dinner session is entitled to a meal at a discount of 50% of the menu price.

·       Team members must order and pay for their meal and register it through the till as usual with 50% to be vouchered off.

·       The order should be sent to the kitchen immediately with the time it is required.

The meal will be made to menu specification.

·       Some meals may not be available depending on stock levels and business needs. Meals will be offered at the discretion of the General Manager and the Head Chef,

·       Team members are entitled to the same discount whilst visiting The xxxx xxxx when they are off duty, this benefit will not apply to any of their guests.

·       Meals must be consumed on the premises at a time and place that does not inconvenience guests dining in the restaurant. Food must not be taken home.

This Policy is to be communicated to all Team Members and displayed. Please sign and date below.

Print name………………………………………...



It works really well and everyone knows where they stand, once they have read and signed it there can be no complaints.
Joined Mar 14, 2010
Well since I work at a hotel we do provide Employees meals.  Everyday at 12 noon 3 big hotel pans of food go out.  The house keeping comes upstairs and gets it and brings it downstairs for all the other employees of the hotel.  There is no set menu it depends on the cook.  When I work that shift I give them Chicken fingers and french fries and some left over banquet food.  Some time I make chicken Alfredo.  The employees that work night can buy there food at a 50% discount.  The use to be able to get salad for free but now they have to pay full price do to the lettuce prices hiking up.
Joined Mar 5, 2011
I work at an Italian place most of the week, so it's easy for us. Just a big pan of some type of pasta creation and a salad. It's usually just based on ingredients that we know aren't going to be used up in time and inexpensive items. The other night I sent out some penne with alfredo sauce, sundried tomatoes and basil. Nothing fancy or time consuming, the staff loved it, and it was cheap for the kitchen to make. The staff is kind of at the mercy of our decision, but we try to please.

We are closed between dinner and lunch, so we just do our meal about an hour before dinner service. If they miss the meal or can't eat it for whatever reason, we'll gladly make them something from the menu, but within reason (i.e. not a giant plate of Carpaccio).
Joined May 22, 2010
50% off while on shift.

No "take out"

All items are at cook's discretion.

All items ordered as per menu... no subs, no mods.

It's still a LOT of money every month. About 15 meals a day... works out to roughly $3000 in lost revenue.
Joined Sep 18, 2008
...It's still a LOT of money every month. About 15 meals a day... works out to roughly $3000 in lost revenue.
It might be $3,000 in increased costs, that's $100/day, but it sure is NOT $3,000 in lost revenues, unless your employees would eat there if you didn't offer staff meals!

At 15 meals per day and your estimate of $100/day ($3,000/month), that's $6.67/meal. For an 8 hour shift, that amounts to $0.83/hour. Have you considered raising their pay by $0.85/hour and they pay the cost of meals (labor + food), say 60% of menu price, you eat the overhead, you'd be far better off.
Joined Dec 15, 2010
When I worked at Black Angus we got to pick from a set few dishes that were free, grilled chicken, grilled chicken sandwich, soup/salad, hamburger. If we wanted anything else we got 25% off. Non-alcoholic drinks (tea & sodas) were always free. This was only during our shift.

We have such a small staff where I am now, everyone just has whatever. We do tend to eat the stuff that needs eating first, ie: soup, chicken salad that is on it's last day etc. We also snack a lot throughout the day, being a cheese shop as well we are constantly cutting samples for customers and reserve the rest for ourselves. We also do tastings on Tuesday and Thursday when we get our cheese and charcuterie shipments in, those days I toast up a few baguettes and we try the new cheeses along with any accompaniments our cheese monger wants us to try and the tastings usually serve as our staff meal on those days.
Joined Sep 28, 2009
FOH orders whatever they want, i think they get 50%.

BOH do not pay.

There is different rules for different dept heads as well. Some get 50%, some 100%.

EVERYTHING gets rung through. No friggin exceptions. If staff eats off leftover banquet food, it gets rung through.

When the GM is asking questions about revenue & food cost at the end of the year, we have those numbers all ready to go.

The $$$ figure of comped food for the 100%'ers last year was astronomical.

Once we seperated that from our actual revenue, food cost was pretty decent.

As long as the heads are happy with the arrangement i have no complaints.
Joined May 22, 2010
"It might be $3,000 in increased costs, that's $100/day, but it sure is NOT $3,000 in lost revenues, unless your employees would eat there if you didn't offer staff meals!  "

No,. it's lost revenue. The food is sold at full price, rung in through POS, and then discounted at 50%. We get 50% less revenue on those meals than we would have if they were sold at full price. If I were going to throw the food away IF the staff didn't eat it? Then yes, I would agree... but this is product that absolutely will be sold. Therefore, I receive far less revenue on it than I should.

As for tracking it... the staff meals are explained away on my month end reporting.

I'd prefer them to simply create a Staff Meal expense line, so that the cost of food would never reach my inventory... but they don't see the logic.
Joined Mar 1, 2011
Didn't want to comment on this, but how are you accounting this as lost revenue? Its lost cost. Bottom line. Piece of 'Grilled Chicken and Potato' is what, 85 cents? Thats 85 lost cost. Maybe it comes up as lost revenue on your numbers, but thats absurd.
Joined Sep 18, 2008
OK PraireChef, then you are turning away 15 customers per day because you are feeding staff? If that is the case, then I'll be the first to agree with you.

However, one cannot "lose" what one never had!

And I'm certain you are not turning customers away, at least not for long /img/vbsmilies/smilies/laser.gifor you'll be no longer having to feed staff /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rollsmile.gif

Oh, who is paying the 50%?

And why are the staff meals being run through the POS unless someone is putting some money in the till?

IMHO, someone needs a "come to Jesus" meeting with the bean counters because they are counting the wrong beans!

Instead of "losing revenue", from what you said it appears that someone is "inflating sales" by running comps through income.

Oh well, it is not "my house", but to me, someone is playing fast and loose with the monopoly money...
Joined Apr 17, 2006
Where I work, everyone can have soup, salad, potatoes and bread free. FOH can order whatever they want at 50% off. Back of house does not pay. I get irritated with BOH sometimes because almost everything we have is high cost (no burgers, the cheapest things are catfish or chicken breast). Will they eat the the chicken breast that broke in the bag? No, they take a good one. Or the shrimp with no tails or small pieces of scallops that break off? No, they take the best ones. (S'cuse the rant, they don't care). Anyway, the 50% is policy is from someone who was there before me. I don't believe in making money off my employees, so I generally let them buy things for cost. As long as I get the actual cost back, it's no skin off me. The crew is there anyway, so there's no extra labor. I also sometimes take the broken chicken breasts and other things (undersized walleye fillets etc.) and discount it to employees. At least that way I get my cost back and don't have to hassle with a supplier over credit for something I couldn't sell that I paid for. Or I'll make a family meal out of odds and ends I can't sell. Usually this will be in the form of a stir.fry. Or when we have a small crew on during the week nights, I sometimes make things that I'm hungry for using ingredients I purchased myself. Last night it was meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. Last week it was biscuits and gravy. They're always hungry and always appreciate anything I make. Some nights someone else will bring something in for everybody.
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