The Code for Uniform Practices by Karalyn White, Restaurant Consultant

In the past few years, there has been a lot of media news surrounding skimpy uniforms. This makes it imperative that restaurants not only keep up with researching menu trends and renovations, but also dedicate time to create policies around uniform practices.

If you are a new restaurant planning to hire front-of-house staff, uniform policies are a great way to set the tone for the employees and a key piece to help build your brand from the start. If you decide to create a casual look for the uniform, your brand will say that you are easy going and laidback, where as a very polished uniform will set a more formal and often upscale tone. When creating the look of a uniform, take into consideration that staff will perhaps not apply to a restaurant if they are uncomfortable with the look. Ask yourself: “Would the person I’m hiring feel comfortable wearing this?”

I have been asked several times about one place getting away with having staff wear certain uniforms, but not others. The answer is simple – it is in the hiring. When the brand is developed, you should be hiring for the brand and as well as the uniform. Take note when you are interviewing and be mindful of the way the person dresses and presents themselves. This is indicative of the care and pride that your future employee will take while working for you.

If you are an existing restaurant and there is a huge change to a uniform policy, you are in essence changing the brand or the culture, causing potential fallout. If you have hired someone that feels comfortable wearing a button down top and dress pants and you suddenly require a cocktail dress, the employee may decide to leave because that is not what they signed up for. I’m not saying that changing your uniform style is wrong by any means, as I mentioned you need to keep up with the times – but when doing so, be cautious. Team members often feel defined by what they wear, if you alter this greatly, just be aware that you may need a new set of team members to wear the new uniforms.


Expertise provided by Karalyn White, Restaurant Consultant
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