Restaurant Start-Up Kit


Restaurants and industry professionals that are part of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association have access to essential information and valuable resources that help protect foodservice businesses. The HERO manual – your Handbook for Excellent Restaurant Operations - is the ultimate reference guide through the laws and regulations that make running a restaurant so complex. Members receive a FREE hardcopy upon joining and free annual updates. The electronic version is also available in Members Only. Non-members may obtain the HERO by becoming a WRA member.

WRA Membership Contact:

Susan Quam | Executive Vice President



Frequently Used Forms

The WRA provides you with frequently used business and managerial forms so you always have a good quality original to photocopy. Forms are also available for purchase in quantity packs in our Online Store.



Ready-to-Post Signs

A start-up supply of the signs you are most likely to need. Posters are also available in the WRA Online Store.

  • Wash Hands (2)
  • Hair Restraints
  • No Shoes No Shirt No Service
  • No Smoking Please
  • Smoke-Free Environment
  • Wisconsin Alcohol Policy
  • Clean Plates
  • Report Your Tips
  • Emergency Phone Numbers

Money Saving Opportunities


WRA provides money-saving discounts on services from preferred suppliers. Cost-savings for members includes:

  • ServSafe® Certification – In Class or On-line
  • Free Badges to the Wisconsin Restaurant Expo
  • Email Marketing
  • Credit Card Processing
  • Casualty / Property and Worker’s Compensation Insurance
  • Music Licensing
  • Internet Job Postings

Best Practices for Employee Recruitment

Hear what other restaurant operators are doing to address the staffing challenge. You might find a good idea or two that you haven’t tried.

Some members sound off on what's working for them:

  • "The best way we have found is to rely on current employees for references. We are very fortunate to have many long-term employees. Recruiting is difficult at best. Retaining good employees is another matter. We have to pay much higher than industry standard and be much more flexible with their work schedule requests."
  • Strategies for recruiting chefs have been peer-to-peer networking, social media, some digital advertising and word of mouth. Retention has been based on higher than normal compensation, health insurance and the push to 4 day work weeks.
  • Word of mouth has worked the best.

Restaurant Operators Frequently Asked Questions

I just found out a waitress I recently hired is pregnant. Shouldn’t she have told me this during the job interview? How do I handle this situation now?

Your waitress was not obligated to tell you about the pregnancy during the job interview. Also, it would not have been wise to ask about pregnancy during the interview because, if you had denied her a job, she could have brought a sex discrimination lawsuit against you. Now that she’s on staff, what do you do? Be careful with your policies toward pregnant employees. As a rule of thumb, treat a pregnancy like a temporary medical disability. Any policy that treats pregnant employees less favorably than other employees with a temporary medical disability, could be considered discriminatory.

I hired a new manager last week. Since then, I found out through the grapevine, that he has an alcohol problem. How should I handle this? Should I let him go now to avoid any future problems?

If you were to let him go before experiencing any problems, you could face a potential discrimination lawsuit because alcoholism is considered a protected disability under the Americans with Disabilities act. So how do you handle this potential problem? Carefully. You may hold anyone with a disability to the same standards as your other employees. Hopefully you have a written policy prohibiting alcohol or illegal drug use on the job. If your new manager violates this policy, follow the disciplinary action you’ve outlined in the policy. Do not mention to him the rumors you heard about his drinking problem.

I have several employees who are often late or miss work because their young kids get sick or a babysitter doesn’t arrive. I’m interviewing another woman right now for a job at our restaurant and I really want to avoid this situation. Can I ask if she has children?

It would not be a good idea. Asking about children is not illegal, per se, but if you ask her if she has children and later deny her a job, (even if that was not your deciding factor) she could claim she was illegally discriminated against based on her sex. The real issue here is not children, but whether an employee is reliable and punctual. Ask her for multiple references and carefully check them.

How should I put together my job application forms to avoid any possible discrimination claims?

You can use WRA’s. In your HERO manual is a sample job application for restaurants that meets all federal and state regulations. It is located in the “Frequently Used Forms” section in a plastic sheet protector so you will always have a good quality original to photocopy.