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6 Worst Nightmares in Restaurant Training: A Halloween Special

Daniil Klubov Founder & Ceo of spoon.tech
Audri Adhyas Paul
October 31, 2023
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Restaurant Customer Service Training

In any restaurant, training is the lifeblood that ensures the smooth operation and success of establishments. Just as the Halloween season brings with it spooky tales and spine-tingling encounters, the realm of restaurant training is not without its own set of nightmares. These eerie occurrences, though not supernatural, can send shivers down the spines of restaurant owners, managers, and employees alike. In this Halloween special, we delve into some of the biggest nightmares in restaurant training and offer strategies to exorcise these fears.


1. The Haunting Onboarding Process  

Imagine walking into a dark, foreboding mansion with creaky floorboards, and eerie noises emanating from all directions. That's what the onboarding process can feel like for new hires in the restaurant industry. The early days and weeks on the job can be a perplexing and unsettling experience, much like a journey into the unknown.  

New hires often face a lack of guidance, outdated training materials, and chaotic work environments. This lack of structure can leave them feeling disoriented and unprepared. Moreover, the haunted onboarding process can lead to high turnover rates as employees quickly become discouraged.

To avoid this chilling experience, it's crucial for restaurants to offer a well-structured onboarding process. The orientation should include comprehensive training materials, clear expectations, and mentorship from experienced staff. A smooth onboarding process ensures that new employees feel welcome and have a better chance of becoming valuable members of the team.


2. The Ghostly Customer Service Training  

Customer service is the lifeblood of any restaurant. However, every restaurant employee is all too familiar with the angry customer who demands to speak to the manager or quickly leaves a 1-star review on Google or Yelp. A single negative review can sneak up to you out of nowhere and haunt your establishment.

Yet, providing effective customer service training can be a nightmare for many restaurant owners and managers. This is clear from the TalentLMS survey where 70% of restaurant employees working in customer-facing roles reported that they have never received any customer service training.  

If your staff doesn't know how to handle difficult customers, or worse, they ignore them, leaving them feeling unappreciated and disrespected. This is the kind of scenario that can turn into a horror story for your restaurant.

To avoid such a situation, invest in comprehensive customer service training. Role-playing exercises, customer service guidelines, and regular communication are essential. It's crucial to provide your staff with the skills and knowledge they need to serve your patrons effectively, ensuring they have a pleasant dining experience.

3. The Kitchen of Night Terrors

The restaurant kitchen is often likened to a battleground, with orders flying, flames roaring, and chefs frantically preparing meals. However, for new kitchen staff, it can be more than intimidating; it can be terrifying. The high-stress environment of the kitchen can leave new hires feeling overwhelmed and unprepared.  

In this situation, if a new cook is unable to keep up with the pace, it may lead to food delays and disgruntled customers. The chaos in the kitchen can become a real-life nightmare that affects your restaurant's reputation and bottom line.

Effective kitchen training is crucial to preventing this nightmare. Structured and hands-on training, clear communication, and mentorship are key ingredients for success. Make sure new kitchen staff are trained to handle the fast-paced, high-pressure environment and maintain the quality and consistency of your dishes.


4. The Safety and Compliance House of Horrors

In the restaurant industry, safety and compliance training are of paramount importance, especially when it comes to allergen awareness and general safety protocols. Inadequate training in these areas can lead to real-life nightmares that include customer illnesses, legal troubles, and damage to your restaurant's reputation.

Imagine a scenario where a staff member unknowingly serves a dish to a customer with severe food allergies, leading to a severe allergic reaction. This is a genuine horror story that can unfold when allergen training is lacking or ignored. Such incidents not only put the customer's health at risk but also expose the restaurant to potential lawsuits and negative publicity.

Furthermore, failing to provide comprehensive safety and compliance training can result in accidents and mishaps in the kitchen or dining areas. Slip and fall accidents, foodborne illnesses, and sanitation breaches can turn your restaurant into a house of horrors.

Therefore, proper safety and compliance training including allergen and food safety can be a literal life-saving endeavor and cannot be taken lightly.

To avoid these chilling scenarios, it's imperative to invest in robust safety and compliance training programs. This includes thorough allergen awareness training, food safety protocols, health and safety regulations, and sanitation practices. Consistent and ongoing training ensures that your staff is well-equipped to handle these critical aspects of the restaurant industry, safeguarding both customer well-being and the reputation of your establishment. Failure in these areas can lead to severe consequences, including poisoning customers. Imagining a scenario where poor training results in customer illnesses and allergic reactions is the stuff of nightmares for any restaurant owner or manager. Protecting your customers and your restaurant's reputation should be a priority, ensuring that this particular nightmare remains just that – a nightmare, not a reality.


5. The Curse of Inadequate Training Materials and Resources  

In restaurant training, nightmares can manifest themselves in the form of training materials that are boring and outdated. Consider this, you have a seasonal special item, perhaps like a pumpkin spice latte, that you introduce every year during the Halloween season. Now imagine its recipe has been changed, but the training manual hasn’t been updated accordingly. Now there is widespread confusion among the staff about how this is made. This is a small example, but restaurant processes are highly dynamic and constantly evolving. If the materials are not updated accordingly, it can lead to confusion, but more importantly, it can disrupt customer service. Especially for multi-unit franchises where consistency is an utmost priority, it can lead to customer dissatisfaction if customers get different taste and experience in different branches.

This is exacerbated if the materials are boring and disengaging. More often than not, restaurants resort to pages-long staff training manuals filled with jargon. Most employees, especially the ones from the younger generations, don’t find them appealing enough to read. They are also difficult to update in case of changes.  

Boring and outdated training materials can result in disengaged trainees and, worse, misinformation. To breathe life into your training, revamp your training materials with relevant, engaging content. Use training solutions like spoon.tech which incorporate multimedia elements, interactive exercises and gamification to keep trainees actively engaged and informed.


6. The Ghosting Mentor  

Shadowing and mentorship are two most commonly used methods of restaurant training. Having experienced employees to guide and mentor newcomers can greatly enhance the learning process. However, what if your mentor is a reluctant spirit?

Imagine that a new employee is supposed to shadow an experienced staff member, but this mentor is disinterested, provides minimal guidance and doesn’t answer questions properly. The new hire is left to navigate the restaurant's intricacies alone, resulting in confusion, inadequate knowledge transfer, and a less-than-ideal start.  

A reluctant mentor can lead to incomplete training, stunted growth for new employees, and a negative atmosphere in the workplace. It's important to motivate and engage reluctant mentors, perhaps by offering incentives, recognition, or additional training for their mentoring role. After all, a helpful mentor can be a guiding light in the darkest of times.


Confronting Restaurant Training Nightmares

Confronting these restaurant training nightmares is essential for the success and sustainability of your establishment. Here are some practical tips to address and prevent these chilling experiences:   

1. Comprehensive Training Programs: Develop well-rounded training programs that cover all aspects of the job, from onboarding to safety and compliance.

2. Mentorship: Encourage experienced employees to become mentors and provide them with incentives and recognition for their efforts.

3. Engaging Training Materials: Update and revamp training materials to make them engaging, relevant, and up-to-date.

4. Regular Feedback: Create a feedback loop that allows trainees to provide input on their training experience and suggest improvements.

5. Invest in Technology: Invest in tech-driven training management solutions like spoon.tech which is not only cost-effective, but also ensures engagement with gamification and microlearning.  

6. Continuous Improvement: Regularly assess and improve your training programs to adapt to changing industry standards and customer expectations.


In the world of restaurant training, nightmares are not reserved for Halloween. They can happen at any time and wreak havoc on your establishment. However, by recognizing these training nightmares and taking proactive steps to address and prevent them, you can ensure a more successful and less spooky training process.

Training your staff effectively is not just a responsibility; it's a recipe for success in the restaurant industry. So, as you navigate the intricate world of restaurant training, remember to exorcise those nightmares and keep your establishment running smoothly, even in the spookiest of seasons. Happy Halloween!  

If you have faced any of the training nightmares above, we can be your ghostbusters! Get in touch with us by filling out this contact form. You can also call us at +43 670 655 56 82 and email us at hello@spoon.tech.  

Daniil Klubov Founder & Ceo of spoon.tech
Audri Adhyas Paul

Hi, I'm Audri, a Master's student in Digital Economy at Vienna University of Economics and Business, and an enthusiast of the food and hospitality sector. Digital transformation in the hospitality sector is an intersection of my practice and passion, and I love to write on that topic. Let's connect on LinkedIn to chat more!

Audri Adhyas Paul

Hi, I'm Audri, a Master's student in Digital Economy at Vienna University of Economics and Business, and an enthusiast of the food and hospitality sector. Digital transformation in the hospitality sector is an intersection of my practice and passion, and I love to write on that topic. Let's connect on LinkedIn to chat more!

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