What to do When the Power Goes Out in Your Restaurant or Bar

Restaurant Operations, Safety & Security,

What to do When the Power Goes Out in Your Restaurant or Bar
By Society Insurance

Restaurants and bars use five to seven times the energy of other commercial buildings; therefore, a power outage creates costly and harmful downtime. It is crucial to take preventive measures to properly prepare a business in the event there is a loss of power.


Tips to Overcome a Power Outage

Losing power in a restaurant or bar may create costly challenges for a business to overcome. Owner/operators can reduce the severity by taking preventive actions, potentially saving thousands of dollars in losses. Properly educating and training staff members on preventive measures is an important way to prepare a business.



  • Understand local regulations for power outages so the business is in compliance at all times.
  • Prepare and train all staff members to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Regularly test walk-in refrigerators and freezers to ensure all doors are tightly sealed so ingredients will remain fresh in the case of a power outage.
  • Closely follow food labels to ensure each ingredient has been properly stored and has not expired due to improper storage.
  • Consider purchasing a backup generator to power essential items such as refrigerators and freezers during a power outage.


What to Do After Losing Power

Don’t be quick to panic; stay calm. The focus should be directed toward staff and guest safety during a power outage. Injuries can occur easier in this situation, so it is crucial to take immediate action to reduce potential harm.



  • Turn off kitchen equipment. All burners, ovens or gas-powered equipment should be turned off immediately. The kitchen no longer has proper ventilation to filter out harmful smoke or fumes. If necessary, open doors and windows for ventilation.
  • Clearly communicate with guests as often as possible. If the restaurant or bar goes completely dark, it will be confusing, worrying and potentially frightening to guests.
  • Communicate with staff to delegate tasks and ensure the entire team is on the same page about how to resolve the issue.
  • Avoid entering the walk-in refrigerators or freezers. Each time a staff member enters, the cool air is released and the refrigerator or freezer becomes less effective.
  • Dispose of partially cooked ingredients or foods to eliminate the risk of bacteria growth.


Communication and Documentation

Ensure a staff member has documented the time and date of the power outage to understand precisely how long the power is out. This is helpful when assessing ingredients that may have been affected during the loss of power. Contact should be made to the business’ utility provider for information. If the power outage is a localized issue, it will be handled differently than a neighborhood or personal outage. Quick communication with a utility provider will expedite the power restoration process.


Proper communication with guests also should occur. If a guest has a reservation for later in the day, it is important to provide the guest with information on the power outage and an estimated time of when the power will be restored. It also would be very generous to provide the guest with a new reservation time and some form of compensation for the inconvenience.


Once the Power is Restored

If the protocol listed above has been followed, there will be far less work once the restaurant or bar’s power has been restored. All ingredients should be assessed for food safety; if there is any doubt about the food’s freshness, it should be disposed of. All equipment should be tested once the power has been restored. If the outage lasted for an extended period, it is vital to assess the possible damage to any systems within the restaurant or bar. The owner or manager should update customers on the recent power restoration and that the business will return to regularly scheduled hours of operation. Local authorities also should be alerted. If the business was forced to close due to local regulations, it should gain approval before re-opening.


This information is provided as a convenience for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute legal or professional advice. It is provided to assist you in recognizing potential unsafe work problems or conditions and not to establish compliance with any law, rule, or regulation.


Society Insurance is recognized throughout the industry as a leader in providing superior restaurant and bar insurance, custom-tailored to fit each operation's unique needs. To learn more, visit societyinsurance.com/georgia.