The best restaurant scheduling software and apps make it easy to create consistent schedules, alert employees about their shifts and news, and allow shift swapping. They also prepare payroll and sync with point-of-sale (POS) systems for labor forecasting. After evaluating 19 popular platforms, we chose the seven best restaurant scheduling software for 2022.
- Homebase: Best overall for restaurants of any size, including those with more than one location
- Deputy: Best for catering businesses and restaurants with surge months that need extra workers
- Sling: Best for food trucks and small restaurants
- SocialSchedules: Best for restaurants serving alcohol, like pubs, or those needing certification tracking
- 7shifts: Best for franchise restaurants
- Planday: Best for larger and growing restaurants
- ZoomShift: Best for restaurants that open only part of the year
Best Restaurant Scheduling Software & Apps Compared
Paid Monthly Plans
Minimum Monthly Spend (Paid Plans)
Enterprise Plan with Special Pricing
Time off Planning
$19.95–$99.95 per location
$2.50–$4.50 per user
$2–$4 per user
Highest plan only
$19.99–$76.99 per location
Highest plan only
$15.99–$39.99 per location
30-day free trial
$2.49–$6.49 per user
$94.80 (Plus) $354.50 (Pro)
Highest plan only
$2.50–$5 per user
Via API in highest plan
Homebase: Best Overall Restaurant Employee Scheduling Software
Homebase is our top-recommended employee scheduling software and ranks No.1 for scheduling software for restaurants with a 4.83 out of 5. The free version, pricing, and forecasting tools make it especially useful for restaurants, and the hiring features are icing on the cake. It can grow with you, with higher plans offering more tools, including HR support.
The free version has all the tools you need for managing schedules and tracking employee clock-ins. For restaurants with high turnover, the job board and applicant tracking functions are gravy. The paid plans can take scheduling to the next level, and depending on how much you want to pay per location, you can get everything from forecasting to PTO management to HR compliance support.
Need payroll functions? Homebase offers native payroll, which includes tax filings, employee onboarding, and unlimited payroll runs for $35/month + $4 per user/month.
- Free version: Homebase’s excellent free version contains a schedule builder, shift trade capability, templates, some time-off tracking, and the ability to see and approve time off. It allows employee messaging and end-of-shift feedback. You can offer pay advances, too. Plus, it has basic hiring tools. You can also save time sheets and reports for 90 days and prepare timecards for payroll. This appetizer to the Homebase software may be all you need. Most of the others offer free plans, but limit the number of people or have fewer tools. (Sling, however, allows unlimited locations.)
- Forecasting tools: While Deputy has strong labor forecasting tools, Homebase gives it a run for its money. Along with the usual tools, the Budget Forecasting Toolbar also includes the latest weather forecast, so you can plan for another waitperson in the outdoor seating area or schedule fewer workers when a big snowstorm is coming.
- Scheduling: Even the free plan has schedule templates you can modify and save to reuse, but paid plans include automated scheduling, plus rules for breaks and overtime already set for your state. You can add notes, set geofencing (a nice tool for caterers), and announce open shifts. Some applications, like 7shifts, let managers clock out for employees that forgets, but Homebase (and Sling) can do it automatically.
- Restaurant features: The by-location pricing is great for restaurants that have high and low seasons, such as those in tourist areas. Like most of the schedulers on our list, Homebase integrates with popular POS software, making it easy for cashiers to clock in and out. It also integrates with Restaurant 365 for accounting and BevSpot for beverage management. You can set shift notes so people know if they are on cleaning duty, drive-through, or behind the bar. You can also assign multiple roles and wage rates, a handy tool if you have a waiter who sometimes bartends.
- Employee communications: Your managers can send announcements, conduct employee performance evaluations, approve time off, see employee availability, and get alerts when employees clock in late. Employees can message each other or their team to arrange shift swapping—all you need to do is approve it. You can also share events and allow comments. This is pretty typical for most scheduling applications.
- Mobile app: A mobile app is vital for employee communications. At the time of writing this article, Homebase earned the top score for iOS with 4.8 out of 5 from around 29,400 reviews. It had an average ranking for Android with 4.4 out of 5 from about 14,350 votes. There were complaints of various issues from calendars not updating to people not being able to clock in.
- HR and payroll functions or integrations: Homebase stands out in that it offers hiring tools, a nice addition for such a high-turnover industry. (7shifts also offers hiring tools.) Paid plans include performance management tools, while the top plans include labor costing. The All-in-One plan comes with advisers, document storage, an employee handbook builder, and more. It also offers strong tools for compliances, such as tracking certifications, breaks, and overtime. It even notifies you if labor laws in your state change—another way it sets itself above the competition.
- Ease of use: Homebase gets high marks from users for the desktop and mobile versions, with an average of 4.57 out of 5 over multiple user review sites. Users say it’s easy to set up and quick to get the hang of. The mobile app includes scheduling functions, so you are not tied to a computer. Customer service is live via chat, phone, or email, and there are help guides and video tutorials.
Deputy: Best Restaurant Employee Scheduling Software for Seasonal Restaurants & Catering
Deputy is also featured in our evaluation of the best employee scheduling software for its excellence in handling multiple locations and roles. Its Flexi Plan is a great asset for caterers or restaurants that have regular high and low seasons, as it lets your inactive employees keep in contact with the team without paying full price. Others on our list let you archive inactive employees, but not keep them in newsfeeds or let them make time-off requests.
It also has top-notch analytics and labor forecasting in its Enterprise Plan. The platform—which is available in over 90 countries, with 24/7 support for each region—earned a 4.64 out of 5 in our evaluation. Users give Deputy high praise for its ease of use, and the tools are top-notch. It took a hit in our scores primarily because its time and attendance tool costs extra and it lacks live phone support. The forecasting tools, which we found impressive, are only in the Enterprise Plan. If this is a deal-breaker for you, consider Homebase.
- Flexi Plan: Designed for seasonal businesses or caterers, the Flexi Plan is Deputy’s Premium Plan at a special price for companies that have significant staff changes throughout the year. Rather than archive or drop employees not working that week, you put them on inactive status. They still receive communications (and training) and can submit leave requests and update their profile. This way, when you need all hands on deck, your trained workers are a click away. No other scheduler on our list has this type of plan.
- Forecasting: Deputy’s Enterprise Plan lets you predict staffing needs based on trends in sales, deliveries, appointments/reservations, and other signals you can set. You can set rules based on its analysis to ensure you have the minimum staffing, and it alerts you if you may be scheduling too many people. You can apply the forecasting tools when automatically creating a schedule; most software just gives you an analysis.
- Scheduling: Deputy alone on our list has separate plans for scheduling or time tracking, or you can get both in the Premium or Flexi Plans. Like most schedulers on our list, Scheduling includes drag-and-drop shifts and compliance rules like break times, work hour restrictions for minors, time off, overtime, shift-swapping, and more, but it also includes auto-scheduling. Time and attendance includes geofencing, creates timesheets for you to approve, and syncs with your payroll software. Also, managers can see who’s on shift, on break, and running late.
- Mobile app: Deputy’s app earned 4.8 out of 5 with about 2,500 reviews for iOS and 4.6 out of 5 with around 10,600 votes for Android. The praise was overall good, if nonspecific, and the complaints were few and varied. It was second only to 7shifts for the best mobile application for scheduling.
- Restaurant features: While you can find most of these tools in the other software on our list, Deputy provides the whole enchilada. It alerts you if you accidentally schedule a “clopening”—where the same person closes one night and opens the next. Rather than presenting the information as a task list, it does shift analysis so you can see if you’ve overstaffed. Like 7shifts, it can record video announcements to post on the newsfeed—a great tool for training demos. You can also set up health screening for employees, something the restaurant business is concerned with even outside COVID-19 worries.
- HR and payroll functions and integrations: Like SocialSchedules, Deputy helps businesses in Fair Work Week jurisdictions stay compliant by recording schedule amendments, calculating the required predictability pay, and capturing employee consents to change. With roughly 40 integrations, Deputy is one of the best for connecting to popular POS or payroll systems.
- Ease of use: Users on multiple review sites gave it an average of 4.55 out of 5 across the board. This puts it above average, with 7shifts having the highest scores (4.69). There are videos, a good selection of how-to articles, and unlimited 24/7/365 chat support.
Sling: Best Restaurant Employee Scheduling Software for Food Trucks & Small Restaurants
Sling is one of the cheapest restaurant employee scheduling services we reviewed, and it does not have a monthly minimum. Even though it’s used by Subway, KFC, and Taco Bell, we like it for small restaurants and food trucks because of the price point. Its mobile app is one of the top-rated and has the fewest complaints (at the time of this writing) of any of the scheduling apps we considered.
In our evaluation, it earned an overall score of 4.45 out of 5. It earned an excellent score on pricing, with inexpensive monthly plans even at the business level, and got a perfect score for reporting. It lost points for lacking live phone support and an offline mode. In popularity, it received high marks, but didn’t have as many user reviews as others on our list, giving it a slight hit in scoring for that section.
- Mobile App: While not the top-rated mobile app among users, it was the most consistent between operating systems. Sling’s mobile app earned 4.7 out of 5 with around 22,500 reviews for iOS and 4.7 out of 5 with about 4,520 votes for Android. It had few complaints—the fewest glitch complaints of those on our list—and was overall considered easy and dependable.
- Task features: Openings, closings, deep cleans, and inspection preps all work better when the staff knows exactly what to do. Sling offers a robust tasking function that lets you assign tasks to individuals or teams, create and save task templates for recurring duties, and provide manager feedback. Homebase, by contrast, lets you add notes to the schedule, but does not have task lists, per se.
- Scheduling: You’ll find most of the tools on Sling in other programs, but we especially like how it tracks unavailability and time off because you can use it for compliance as well—for example, create unavailability rules for minor workers so that you don’t schedule them during school hours. The Business plan lets the software automatically assign shifts based on availability and qualifications. The time clock lets you set limits on when early employees can clock in and, like Homebase, will automatically clock them out at the end of the shift.
- Employee communications: In addition to task lists, Sling (like the others on our list) offers both messaging and an interactive news feed, so you can keep your employees up to date on the latest news, whether it’s a new policy or a reminder to push the nachos. Employees can use the app to request shift swaps and get reminders about shifts and clocking in.
- Restaurant features: Sometimes, employees may hold more than one position—waiter and bartender, for example. Many apps will let you apply different wages, but Sling also alerts you if you try to schedule someone for a job when they are already working a different one. In addition, you’ll find tools to help you stay compliant with labor laws for minors, monitor overtime, and set up tasks for common restaurant chores.
- HR and payroll functions and integrations: It’s easy to tackle payroll by approving time sheets on desktop or mobile and exporting them to your payroll processor or as an XLS or CSV. Sling also offers budgeting and holiday pay rules. Sling has few integrations, but it does integrate with POS systems like Toast, Square, and Restaurant Manager. For more options, consider Deputy or 7shifts.
- Ease of use: While Sling didn’t receive as many user reviews as most of the software on our list, it did generate a solid 4.5 out of 5, averaged across multiple third-party review sites. Managers enjoyed the ease of use and said the free plan gave them everything they needed. Employees also thought it was easy and appreciated the reminders. There are video tutorials and illustrated how-to articles, but support is only by email.
7shifts: Best Restaurant Employee Scheduling Software for Franchises
7shifts is designed specifically for restaurants, with strong restaurant tools like tip pooling, a highly rated mobile app, and integration with dozens of POS systems. While Homebase allows unlimited workers per location, 7shifts has better base prices and offers discounts to franchises and restaurants with multiple locations. It also offers a handy a la carte menu of extras (paid per month, per location) in case you want a plan with a specific tool.
- Operations overview: $6.99
- Task management: $12.99
- Tip Pooling: $24.99
- Manager Log Book: $14.99
Earning 4.35 out of 5 on our rubric, 7Shifts scored 4+ in all sections, losing a percentage here and there because some features are only in the most expensive plans. It also took a hit for lacking live phone support.
- Multilocation tools: Several of the software on our list have by-location pricing and let you manage multiple locations. 7shifts stands out in letting you work with it together or individually when needed. After all, your busy downtown location is going to have different scheduling and task needs than your less-trafficked restaurant on the edge of town. You can connect all the locations and switch between them, both on mobile and desktop. With the Operations add-on, you can compare multiple locations’ sales, labor, and employee engagement data.
- Scheduling: While 7shifts has some great scheduling features like templates and rules, auto-scheduling is only with the Gourmet Plan—but it is machine-learning based. Other applications, like Homebase, have this function in cheaper plans. The time clock stands out from the competition not only in that it can integrate with your POS, but also in that it records clock-ins/outs when the Wi-Fi is down and syncs later. Only Homebase and Deputy also have this capability.
- Employee communications: Reminders and messages help keep staff arriving on time and informed of upcoming events or news. Employees can trade shifts, request time off, and change availability all on the app, with manager approval and schedule updating. Announcements can be sent by text and email as well. Like with Deputy, you can upload videos, such as for training, and 7shifts has reader-receipt so you know which employees saw the message.
- Mobile app: This app earned 4.8 out of 5 with around 900 reviews for iOS and 4.7 out of 5 with about 3,270 votes for Android, making it one of the best rated on our list. There were some complaints of glitches last year after an update on Android, but those seem to be fixed, and there were few complaints as of this writing.
- Restaurant features: Of all the scheduling software we considered, 7shifts alone was made specifically with restaurants in mind. It integrates with about two dozen POS systems, most of which are focused on the restaurant industry, as well as with ExpandShare, a restaurant training solution, and HigherMe, a hiring app for restaurants and retailers. 7shifts has COVID-19 screening questions for the safety of your staff and diners. It also has a tip reporting feature, including a tip pooling function.
- HR and payroll functions and integrations: In addition to the POS integrations, it connects with more than a dozen payroll systems like QuickBooks, Gusto, and ADP. Missed or late shifts are flagged to ensure payroll accuracy. The scheduling tools help you maintain compliances for breaks, split shifts, and overtime. The manager logbook, something only a few applications like SocialSchedules have, makes it easy to identify opportunities or problems and communicate between shifts. One standout is the end-of-shift feedback survey to make sure you identify problems before they boil over.
- Ease of use: 7shifts is one of the top user-rated scheduling software applications on our list, with 4.69 out of 5 across multiple review sites; it’s gotten rave reviews (as of this writing). Employees and managers loved the interface and said it was easy to use and that the support team was great. Support is only available by ticket, so that’s high praise. You will find video and illustrated how-to articles, plus templates and guides.
SocialSchedules: Best Restaurant Employee Scheduling Software for Pubs & Restaurants Serving Alcohol
SocialSchedules, is a scheduling and time clock software with strong compliance tools to augment its excellent scheduling and communications features. We recommend it for businesses concerned not just with labor laws but also for bars, pubs, and restaurants serving alcohol because it has tools for tracking health and other certifications.
It earned 4.14 out of 5 on our rubric. It earned excellent scores for pricing and ease of use. However, it took a large hit because you cannot create custom reports and its sales forecasting tools are only available if you integrate with a compatible POS system.
- Compliance: Many of the scheduling software we reviewed have some form of setting pay rates, limiting hours, and checking for compliance breaches like overscheduling a person. However, SocialSchedules’ Premium Plan sweetens the pot with tools that track certifications and alert you when an employee’s certificate is about to expire. (7shifts and Planday store certifications.) In addition, you can create disclaimers for employees to read upon clocking out, a good way to get written agreements to changes in schedules or policies, which can help with Fair Work Week compliance.
- Scheduling: SocialSchedules has schedules and templates but stands out from the rest with its custom availability feature. Employees can create multiple availability sets with their own start and stop dates. That makes it easier for them to plan a vacation or adjust for the school year starting. Even more, managers can lock days, where workers cannot drop or trade a shift on that day. (Homebase has this feature too.) This could be useful for important events, like hosting a wedding reception.
- Employee communications: As with most restaurant scheduling software, you can alert employees to the new schedule, send private and group messages, make announcements, and send reminders. Workers can trade shifts, or managers can invite an employee to take on a shift. Like with Homebase and 7shifts, managers also have the advantage of a logbook for tracking receipts, sharing images (like of the refrigerator that didn’t get cleaned during closing), and loading documents.
- Mobile app: The mobile app earned 4.5 out of 5 with about 470 reviews for iOS and 4.1 out of 5 with around 380 votes for Android. Users praised the user interface but have recently complained about login issues. If your workers are depending on their apps, check out Sling or 7shifts.
- Restaurant features: Like 7shifts, SocialSchedules has a tips reporting function as part of the time clock. It integrates with several restaurant POS systems—such as Heartland Restaurant, POSitouch, Restaurant Manager, and Square. The certifications tracking lets you keep track of food handling training and other certifications important to your business. In addition, you can tag shifts so waiters can know where they are working and send addresses with maps for people who are delivering to or catering an event.
- HR and payroll functions and integrations: The bulk of the HR functions lie in its compliances and certification management. Managers are quickly informed of issues like clocking in early from a break. You can run reports needed to see how your staff is performing, and if you have POS software, you can pull in sales information, create labor vs sales reports, import time cards to payroll, and more.
- Ease of use: Users on average gave it 4.51 out of 5 across multiple review sites. Both managers and employees said it was very easy to use, especially for part-time workers. There are illustrated how-to articles on the website and a chatbot that can also reach a live person. The Enterprise plan includes dedicated live support, and there are set-up services available.
Planday: Best Restaurant Employee Scheduling Software for Larger & Growing Restaurants
Like Deputy, Planday is available in multiple countries—the US, Canada, the UK, and most of Europe. Its pricing and department-level scheduling tools make it a better choice for larger restaurants and those that are growing. Like 7shifts, it can also be good for multiple locations.
While it got a perfect score for scheduling tools, the pricing and a glitchy mobile app hurt its overall ranking. It received a 3.96 out of 5 in our evaluation.
- Force Read Feature: While Planday is like all the other scheduling software in that it lets you contact individuals or groups, it’s the only platform that has a Force Read function. This requires that an employee read and acknowledge a message before they can use the app—even to clock in. This is good for important messages, such as new training, an event, or notice that a popular item is out of stock.
- Scheduling for large restaurants or many locations: While others on our list allow multiple schedules, Planday also has department settings that can also have multiple schedules—use this for locations or separating kitchen and dining schedules. If employees work in different departments, Planday will ensure you don’t double-book them. Like about half the software on our list, auto-scheduling is in the highest plan (Pro).
- Employee communications: Like the other software on the list, Planday lets you send messages to groups or individuals and has a news section on the homepage for announcements or training. Employees can use it to request time off and trade shifts. One standout is that they can set preferred hours. Not every software has this function.
- Restaurant features: The clock function lets you add shifts, a nice tool when bringing in extra help for an unexpected rush. The punch clock has location-specific time tracking, great for caterers and delivery staff. While it does not have certification tracking like SocialSchedules, you can store licenses in the documents section and track skills so you don’t schedule a waiter to bartend.
- Mobile app: The mobile app earned 4.5 out of 5 with about 3,300 reviews on iOS and 4.3 out of 5 with around 5,400 votes on Android. It requires an Android 6 operating system or higher, which causes problems for employees with older phones. Of the schedulers on our list, it was one of the worst for glitches. For the best mobile app, consider 7shifts, Sling, or Deputy.
- HR functions and integrations: You can integrate with a wide range of restaurant POS systems—such as Lightspeed, Lavu, and FlexyBox—and over 20 payroll software. Users praise the payroll integration, with one saying it’s superior to Deputy, particularly for holiday tracking. The forecasting tools let you analyze employee work hours, costs, and performance. The software enables you to track vacation, overtime, employee data, and more.
- Ease of use: Users on G2, Capterra, and TrustRadius gave Planday an average of 4.38 out of 5 stars. While a great score, it’s nonetheless on the lower end for the software on our list. Users said it was generally easy to use and praised the department scheduling, but had problems with employee use (probably due to the mobile issues). There were also complaints of poor support (during the lockdown), and one person mentioned an annual contract. If you need help, you can peruse illustrated articles or contact live chat support during business hours.
ZoomShift: Best Restaurant Employee Scheduling Software for Seasonal Restaurants
ZoomShift is the simplest restaurant scheduling software to make our lineup. It charges you only for active users and also allows you to put your plan on hold while keeping your information, making it a great choice for seasonal restaurants. It’s used by Subway and Jimmy Johns among other restaurants.
With 3.93 out of 5 in our evaluation, its software worth considering if you want schedules, time tracking, and payroll reporting. It takes a hit on scoring because it lacks POS integrations except through API. However, users love the simplicity of it, and it allows custom reports.
- Plan holds and active member pricing: If your restaurant has long-term slowdowns or times when you close for a month or a season, then ZoomShift is a great choice. Like Sling, it charges only for active users. However, it also lets you put your plan on hold when you don’t need it without losing your information, something no other scheduler offered. Deputy comes close with its Flexi Plan, but you still need active users.
- Restaurant features: You can set requirements for picking up a shift so that the right people are doing the right job. The seasonal planning and ease of use make it a good choice for restaurants with high staff turnover or staff that only works at certain times of the year, like the college student that serves tables over the summer.
- Scheduling: Like most software, it lets you copy schedules or save schedules as templates. It can track time off but is unique in that it also tracks when an employee is available and interested in taking a shift that may not be a regular time. It lacks auto-scheduling, but it does have a labor forecasting tool. You can sync the schedule with Google Calendar, iCal, and Outlook. The time tracker is integrated, making time sheets easy, as well as enabling you to set up clock-in/out rules and geofencing. You can track missed shifts, late arrivals, and more.
- Employee communications: As with all the scheduling software that made our list, ZoomShift lets you send schedules to workers, offer open shifts, and allow employees to trade shifts. It alerts managers about overtime and breaks of shift rules (like clocking in early) and has event announcements, group chats, and direct messages.
- Mobile app: This app ranked the lowest on our list by users, with 2.9 out of 5 from about 50 reviews for iOS and 4.1 out of 5 with around 200 votes for Android. Users said the app is basic but not everything they’d like, and there were reports of glitches.
- HR and payroll functions and integrations: You can approve time sheets and create payroll reports, which you can download as CSV or XLS for putting into a payroll program. You can build other reports, but it doesn’t have many premade. It also lacks integrations into other software unless you get the Enterprise Plan with its API tool.
- Ease of use: Users on average gave it a score of 4.56 out of 5 across several user review sites, which is high for software, but just over average for the software on our list. Small businesses liked it best, praising the simplicity and saying it gave them all the tools they needed. Larger businesses with more complex needs wanted additional features.
How We Evaluated the Best Restaurant Scheduling Software
We started our search by looking for scheduling software priced for the family restaurant but with tools that worked for multiple locations and complex needs. We required mobile apps, shift swapping, and time off planning but also looked for integrations with the best restaurant POS systems and the ability to keep compliant with labor and health laws.
Based on our evaluation, Homebase tops our list with a total score of 4.83 out of 5. It has tools that restaurant managers need such as employee scheduling, time clocks and sheets, team communication, hiring, onboarding, and labor compliance.
To view our full evaluation criteria for the best restaurant scheduling software for employees, click through the tabs below.
30% of Overall Score
We favored software with transparent pricing and starting plans at under $4 per user, per month. Where places charged by location (like Homebase) or required custom quotes, we assumed a restaurant with 20 employees. We also looked for free plans and trials. Homebase had a perfect score in this category, with several others just behind because of their custom-priced enterprise plans.
25% of Overall Score
Here, we looked for the most important features—shift swapping, a mobile app with messaging, PTO management, and tools to make scheduling easier, like forecasting and rule-setting for compliance with state laws. Homebase and Planday knocked this one out of the park with everything we looked for.
10% of Overall Score
As much time as we spend on research and testing, it cannot replace the experiences of real-world users. We looked at user scores on popular sites like Capterra, G2, and TrustRadius and considered the number of reviews. We also looked for complaints of glitchy mobile apps. Deputy earned a perfect score, while Sling was next with 4.63 out of 5 because it had fewer reviews.
10% of Overall Score
Reports usually run toward shift analysis, tardies, and time-off requests, plus preparing time sheets for payroll. The differentiator here was whether or not you could create unique custom reports. While several only allowed this in their more expensive plans, only SocialSchedules did not have this feature.
25% of Overall Score
An intuitive interface, a mobile app that is easy for employees to learn, and training and online resources are vital to successful scheduling software. All the software on our list fit the bill, so we also considered integrations, particularly with restaurant POS systems. Homebase and SocialSchedules ranked best overall here.
According to Clockify, managers spend an average of 3.14 hours a week on creating schedules, not to mention the time spent dealing with last-minute changes. The best shift scheduling solution makes it easy to create reliable schedules without errors in overtime or compliance violations and to empower employees to find their own covers when needed.
Overall, we found Homebase to be the best scheduling software for restaurants. It is easy to use for both managers and employees and is full of features. With by-location pricing that allows unlimited employees, it’s easy on the budget too. Try the free version, or jump right in with one of its paid plans today.