Sticky Note

Stopping Food Theft Dead in It’s Tracks


When someone in the restaurant industry starts talking about theft, my mind immediately wanders to the subject near and not so dear to all of our hearts, food cost.

Food cost is usually the number one problem with controllable costs that we all experience from time to time in our restaurants.

Once you realize your food cost is out of control you begin to go into “detective mode” and start searching for the root of the problem.

There are so many factors which can play a role in food loss.  Team 101 will continue to address all of the variables that can go into food loss, but for now we will cover food theft.

The three main ways an employee can steal food from you are:

  1. Employees are taking your food home.
  2. Employees are giving food to guests for their benefit.
  3. Employees are eating your food without paying for it.

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THEFT? Use The Daily Top Ten form which has been the number one tool that Team 101 has used for the speed and success of stopping theft from occurring. 

WHAT IS THE DAILY TOP TEN? The Daily Top Ten is a quick and simple form that you use daily.  You count your top ten highest cost items at the beginning and end of each day.  Steaks and seafood would be good examples of what you might want to count.  This form will calculate what items you are missing from inventory every day. 


  • Allows employees to see that you do a daily count and lets them know that you will be able to pinpoint when the theft occurred.
  • Shows the employees that you care, thus helps boost morale.  The better the morale the less likely they are to steal from you.
  • Encourages honest employees to stay honest.  (Stops an employee from giving a server food not rung in).   An honest person can become dishonest if given the opportunity.
  • Shows the team members that you are a management team that is on top of the game and that you will continue to be aware of daily happenings. (You are not the manager who sits in the office while everyone is stealing right under your nose.)

Another benefit of doing a daily count (on high dollar items) is the ability to find and fix  the problems much faster than if you had waited until the weekly or monthly inventory was completed.

See  Daily Top Ten Form


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