Do Restaurants Have To Feed Employees?

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This article will cover whether or not restaurants have to feed their employees. Believe it or not, though the answer is pretty straightforward forward, there are consequences and rewards for whichever path that a restaurant chooses to take. Yes, that means that we are insinuating that a restaurant doesn’t have to give their employees free food under any circumstances. However, it still needs to be discussed why a restaurant, choosing to do so or not to do, may be making an unwise decision with how they are handling the situation.

Many people believe that a restaurant should feed their employees by giving them atleast one meal a day, regardless of their work hours. These people include not only the employees working for the restaurant, but other people as well. Most people assume that restaurants should be able to easily give all their employees atleast one free meal a day, since they are a restaurant after all.

A restaurant that refuses to provide their employees with free meals may be endanger of high turnover rates and upset employees. Working in a restaurant is a stressful environment, both socially and sometimes physically. The kitchen is hot, which causes the employees in the kitchen to be stressed out at times when working.

Providing every employee with a free meal for their work shift can boost morale, ease stress, and possibly even boost work performance. When a new employee starts a job at a restaurant and is told that they get free meals, it makes them feel like they want to stick around, instead of possibly leaving the restaurant to find another job later on.

The last thing that a restaurant wants is to deny their employees free meals and have them sneaking to steal and eat anything on the restaurants menu when they are hungry. It is better to provide every employee, both managers and subordinates, with one free meal of the restaurant’s choice. This way they can prevent their crew from getting hungry and sneaking and eating the more expensive products.

Restaurants that only provide free food to the superiors.

There are consequences to deciding to only provide free food to the superiors, but not for the subordinates. Doing this is a huge risk, as it is basically throwing the employees under the bus and boosting the morale of the superiors. This can be perceived by the subordinates as a sign that the restaurant doesn’t care if their employees stick around or not, as long as they have their trusty management team around that is well fed.

It is not a wise decision to do this if a restaurant is aware that they need more than a few people to run a restaurant for it to flourish and prosper.

This can result in constant high turnover rates, with employees perceiving that they are of little to no value to the restaurant. Giving free food to superiors that aren’t doing the hard jobs in the restaurant as often as the other employees, will also cause problems. It will make the employees even more uneasy and make them feel less motivated to do their work.

The perfect recipe for disaster is to have managers loving their job, laughing, eating free food, and giving out orders, with the rest of the crew cooking the food and taking care of the guests. We have seen the entire crew walk out on their job on the spot and leave these entitled managers to pick up the slack.

Restaurants giving all employees 50% off of their meals.

Some restaurants do decide to give all their employees a 50% discount for one of their meals daily. Some restaurants even allow this on days where the employees are scheduled off and order food from the restaurant on those days.

Depending on the prices of the food on the menu, employees may feel that this is fair or still not good enough. For restaurants with cheaper foods, employees may find this exceptional. If the food on the other hand is already expensive (overpriced), then the restaurant may be better off giving the employees one free meal for the day instead.

Restaurants that are providing their employees with one free meal are also usually already giving this 50% discount to which ever employee wants to eat more for the day. These restaurants usually do regulate how much food an employee can buy with this daily 50% discount. They may decide to limit this to prevent employees that are ignorant to the system, and other employees, from abusing this system.

Employees abusing the free food that restaurants allow for their employees.

Sometimes restaurants will not provide free food any longer to their employees, because many individuals may be abusing these privileges. It isn’t uncommon for one or more employees to eat more food than they are allowed to have for free daily, and then cause a restaurant to lose significant profits. Employees have to be mindful that restaurants have to buy the food that they have to prepare and cook. Giving employees free food will always cost the restaurant.

Employees shouldn’t be giving free food to the guests, their family, their friends, or their favorite customers. This is theft, and gives the restaurant a very good reason to fire the employee. The only reason that this should be done is by permission from a GM (general manager) or higher. They are usually the only ones that understand the budget of the restaurant and why this isn’t allowed. Managers underneath the general manager usually don’t understand the full repercussions of doing this.

We know this because we have seen many times employees and managers alike takings tubs and cases of food from the restaurant, home. This can severely hurt a restaurant in the long run and cause thousands of dollars of profit to fly out the window. Unfortunately, many employees at restaurants think that the restaurants that they are working at are rich and can supply every employee, including their whole family, with free food daily. An employee has to be respectful and grateful that their restaurant gives them discounts or free food, as they are not entitled to do so.


Though restaurants aren’t entitled to give free food, it is still a great idea for restaurants to do so. A good restaurant will provide their employees with a decent meal daily, that is compromised of specific foods that won’t cut deep into the restaurant’s daily profits. Though some restaurants only provide their employees with a 50% discount, the most successful restaurants with lasting employees provide free meals for their employees.

Some restaurants are unable to provide free meals or even good discounts to their employees, because their food may be extremely expensive to buy, prepare, and cook. These decisions can be made for this reason, which otherwise, could result in severe profit losses for the restaurant. Some foods that restaurants prepare are more expensive than their entire pay check. An employee should be mindful and consider these things and not eat these foods for free without permission from the restaurant’s owner or corporation.

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