As a one-stop shop for all things commercial security, we’ve provided solutions for hundreds of businesses over the last thirty-plus years. Comercial properties all present their own unique security concerns. For starters, every business has its own unique layout that we must consider when designing security measures. Additionally, every type of business also presents unique safety and security challenges. From hospitality, to retail, to entertainment and beyond, we must address security differently for each industry. In this post, we focus on adding restaurant security that addresses the various security issues presented by dining establishments.

Restaurants bring a number of potential security traps to the table. For starters, the importance of operating many types of kitchen equipment brings about an obvious fire concern. Therefore, we will start with our discussion on adding restaurant security here. From there, we will also look at some tips to help deter crime in your restaurant. This includes both burglary-related crimes and violent crimes. Due to the constant presense of money on premise, restaurants are under constant threat of burglary from both professional burglars and staff alike. Additionally, late night hours and alcohol consumption can lead to violence as well. Both of these possibilities deserve addressing with your secuirty plan. Now, let’s get started with a look at fire-related security tips for your business.

A red circle reading "Fire Alarm"

Fire alarms form a major security component of almost any restaurant.

Fire-Related Security Tips

As we pointed out above, restaurants by nature will always create a fire hazard. Furthermore, many restaurants create different types of fire hazards all at once. From fryolaters with grease, to brick ovens with open flames, to piping-hot grill tops with piles of food, the opportunity for this type of emergency always lies right around the corner. In this section, we’ll address this concern from a couple of different angles. We’ll begin with a look at ensuring your fire system works as well as possible for you when you need it most. Then, we’ll look at ways to boost safety in the event of a fire emergency.

Fire Detection System Maintenance

Restaurants generally have strict fire system installation requirements for new restaurants. Every few years, the state updates their requirements to meet ever-changing national fire alarm codes. The National Fire Protection Association, or “NFPA,” updates these codes based on research regarding fire emergencies. Once installed, a fire system is “grandfathered in” and does not require updating until the building is either sold or remodeled, or until the owner changes out the existing fire alarm for a new one. Therefore, a fire detection system installed several years ago may have an outdated, inefficient level of fire detection. For this reason, we recommend that restaurant owners keep up to date with current codes, even though they may not have to do so. Talking with a local fire system installer (such as ourselves) can keep you in the know regarding code changes.

Additionally, make sure you stay up to date with system maintenance and testing. The NFPA requires annual tests for commercial fire systems. Making sure you don’t fall behind can help ensure your alarm works when you need it most. Additionally, your insurance company may not pay for a claim if you have an emergency after falling behind on alarm maintenance. Therefore, you have multiple reasons to make sure you keep this maintenance up to date. Now, let’s look at a couple other ways you can prepare yourself and your staff for a potential fire emergency.

A red fire extinguisher

Having the proper extinguishers at the ready can help restaurant employees stop fires before they become unmanageable.

Fire Fighting and Evacuation Methods

Awhile back, we created a post sharing Required Security for New Businesses. As part of that post, we explain the basics behind commercial fire extinguisher requirements. These requirements mandate minimum distances between detectors, as well as the types of detectors you must have onsite. Of course, restaurants have fairly strict requirements. For starters, the high risk of fire means that employees must have very quick access to extinguishers. Additionally, codes often require multiple types of extinguishers at restaurants. For example, you must often install both extinguishers meant to fight standard fires caused by paper and wood, as well as units that fight grease fires. In addition to installing the required detectors, we recommend training employees fully on their use. Knowing which extinguisher to grab when can go a long way towards adding restaurant security.

Furthermore, we recommend that you practice evacuating your building with the staff. Ensure that all employees know the safest escape routes from every area of the property. Moreover, make sure that your door hardware allows for a speedy exit out of every exterior door. Install heavy duty exit devices, also known as “crash bars,” on exterior doors for the quickest means of escape. Next, let’s see how we can design security measures that address the threat of burglary and violence experienced by many restaurant owners.

Deterring Restaurant Crime and Violence

When discussing the potential for crime in a restaurant, we have to keep multiple factors in mind. For starters, the presense of cash at restaurants makes them an easy target for a burglary. Additionally, as we pointed out earlier, this can take many forms. Both strangers and employees alike attempt to commit these crimes. When designing security measures, we must keep both possibilities in mind. Furthermore, restaurants with bars and late-night hours may also experience the threat of violence. We will address how taking the proper steps can lower this threat as well.

Alarm System Installation and Best Practices

When we install burglar alarms in businesses, we do so to combat crime from both “outsiders” as well as “insiders,” or employees. When designing an alarm system, make sure to secure all of your exterior doors individually, and also consider installing contacts to help combat less traditional means of entry. In particular, glass break detectors and motion detectors help add restaurant security. Given that restaurants often have large windows, these sensors do a great job catching thieves who try to take advantage of this fact to commit their crimes. Furthermore, we recommend installing panic buttons near cash registers. This allows employees to silently activate a police response to a potential hold-up situation if needed.

Additionally, we recommend taking a couple steps to combat employee-related criminal activity as well. For example, we recommend using multiple alarm codes for different employees. This allows you to delete codes as employees move on to different jobs. Following this advice makes it far less likely for an old employee to pay your restaurant an unwanted “visit” down the road! As added security, installing our cellular dialer allows you to track who uses your restaurant’s alarm, and when. This unique piece of equipment can send you an instant smartphone alert when someone arms or disarms your security system. Therefore, even current employees trusted with codes cannot enter the restaurant unexpectedly without you knowing about it immediately. Obviously, this adds quite a bit of security and peace of mind. Next, let’s look at how installing cameras can improve security for both employees and customers alike.

A sign reading "Warning, CCTV in Operation"

Installing exterior and interior cameras in your restaurant can add security for your patrons and employees alike.

Keeping an eye on Your Entire Property

Over the past several years, surveillance systems have gone from being a rare security step to becoming fairly standard. We can point to a couple factors to explain this phenomenon. For starters, evolving camera technology has made this equipment more effective than ever. High-definition cameras that allow users to zoom in on images and still see them at crystal-clear resolution put the technology of yesteryear to shame. Moreover, the widespread nature of this technology evolution has made this equipment more affordable than ever. The combination of increased security and decreased cost has helped this industry boom.

Installing exterior and interior cameras can increase restaurant security tremendously. For starters, potential burglars who see these cameras will think twice before coming back to burglarize you. Of course, if they do, you will greatly increase your chances of catching the culprit. Additionally, unruly customers will also think twice before committing violent acts onsite if these actions go straight to video. Finally, exterior cameras can greatly increase parking lot security. Any incidents outside of your reastuarant will now be traceable and viewable after the fact. This can help you see what happened if any type of accident occurs on your property. Moreover, customers who allege that something happened — such as a slip on an untreated surface — can be fact-checked to make sure that you don’t lose money over fraudulent claims. As you can see, video surveillance adds quite a bit of security, particularly in a restaurant setting.

Putting it All Together for Maximum Restaurant Security

We hope that this post gives you some ideas for adding restaurant security in your own location. Additionally, we also encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have. We will happily discuss your security needs with you and make recommendations. In fact, we already work with dozens of restaurants in designing and installing security equipment. Furthermore, we also encourage you to take advantage of our free site survey program. During our visit, we can work with you to create the best security plan based on your restaurant’s unique layout and security concerns. Together, we can create a plan that keeps your restaurant — as well as the money, the customers, and the employees inside of it — as safe and secure as possible!


All pictures used under the CC0 Creative Commons License.