10 Best Restaurant Shoes and Brewers Boots for Hospitality Workers (2023)
As a brewery, restaurant, or bar owner, chances are that you and most of your staff are on your feet for a majority of the day. Spending your entire shift standing up makes it critical that you give your phalanges the right footwear to make them as comfortable as possible.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, in both the back of house, front of house, production area of a brewery, or taproom/bar, hazards abound. Choosing the correct footwear will minimize the risk of injury.
So consider buying the right shoe or boot a sound investment.
You should find a good pair that will keep you comfortably working throughout the day. As a brewery or restaurant owner, you might even consider investing in this apparel for your employees. It will be a smart decision in the long run if it keeps your entire team comfortable and safe.
But, what makes the best kitchen shoe or brewers boot?
What are the advantages of the proper footwear?
And finally, what are some versions you can find out in the market right now?
We have all the answers to help you “step up” your footwear game.
Photography courtesy of Georgia Boot
What We’ll Cover in This Piece:
What Are the Advantages of Great Footwear?
Protection from Serious Injuries
First and foremost, the proper footwear for your chefs, bartenders, servers, or brewers will provide significant protection. In the course of a normal workday in the hospitality industry, spills will almost undoubtedly occur. Whether a patron knocks over their beer in the taproom, a cook drops a bowl of soup in the back of the house, or a brewer navigates between hosing down kegs and working with chemical compounds, liquids will find their way onto your establishment’s floors or brew deck.
These are all potential workplace hazards.
In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the rate of workplace injuries and illnesses among workers in food services and drinking places is 77.9 per 10,000 full-time employees.
Furthermore, based on the most-recent data from January 2023, BLS reported that food service industry had the fifth highest number of non-fatal workplace injuries (182,500).
And the most common cause of non-fatal injuries resulting in days missed from work?
Slips, trips, and falls at eighteen percent.
But if your staff has the right footwear (slip-resistant, water-resistant—more on that below), they’ll be less prone to serious injuries.
It’s pretty simple: preventing slips will prevent workers getting hurt.
And it all starts with the right footwear.
Investing for the Future
Investing in the best shoes for kitchen works or boots for brewers and the production crew will be an investment for the future. Why?
Consider this: For employees, owners, and managers, preventing injury in the workplace is key. Injuries at work can potentially lead to thousands of dollars in medical costs, rising insurance premiums, or even legal fees.
Durable shoes make your staff more durable. We’re not saying that accidents won’t happen, but the idea here is to be as preventative as possible. Better kitchen shoes and brewers boots can help prevent slips and falls.
Plus, a sturdier shoe will last longer. If you invest in one now (or multiple for your team), you’re less likely to have to constantly replace them like you would with a cheap pair.
Happy Feet = Happy Workers
This one may seem simple and silly, but it's actually the crux of it all, especially if you’re a restaurant, brewery, or bar owner. People with happier feet, who are more comfortable during their shift, will be more likely to provide a better experience to your guests. Or will be happier during the work day, making you and your staff more capable of performing your daily duties.
4 Things to Consider for the Best Shoe for Restaurant or Brewery Workers
When it comes to buying the best kitchen shoes or brewers boots, options abound. Just make sure you consider these four key elements before making any purchases.
Comfort Is Key
For someone working in a profession that requires them to spend ten-plus hours on their feet, comfort will be key when it comes to footwear.
Shoes that are too snug will only cause more damage as the day wears. Look for a shoe that gives your digits ample room to wiggle around in the toe area. Think of it this way: You want to wear the shoe as opposed to the shoe wearing you.
Most importantly, find a shoe that supports the natural arch of your foot. A shoe of this nature will be more comfortable, reducing the risk of injury such as ankle sprains or rolled ankles. A handy trick here to figure out if you have a shoe with good arch support is to bend it in half. If the shoe bends all the way, then it won’t provide the type of structure and support you need.
Pro tip: Shoes with rubber outsoles are best because they reduce the pressure on your feet as you move about in the kitchen, in the front of house, behind the bar, or in the brewery.
It is essential that any kitchen shoe or brewers boot provides you with a good grip. As we just mentioned, your day in a restaurant or brewery will most likely include a variety of spills.
Wearing a slip-resistant shoe will help keep you and your employees safe, avoiding injury.
There are two things that make a good slip-resistant shoe:
Material: You want a shoe that has an outsole made of soft rubber. The outsole is the part of the shoe that directly contacts the ground. Soft rubber is more slip resistant to compounds like water and oil, creating a more stable shoe. One with a greater grip on a slippery floor. A slip-resistant shoe with a soft rubber outsole will have a better chance of grabbing hold in compromising situations than a regular shoe with a harder non-rubber outsole.
Design: Slip-resistant shoes use what’s called an interlocked tread pattern. The purpose of this design is to make sure that water doesn’t become trapped in the bottom of your shoe, but instead flows out and away from your foot. This helps prevent slips.
On the other hand, enclosed tread patterns (like those you’ll often find in gym or tennis shoes), trap the water in their treads. With nowhere to go, the liquid stays put, creating a scenario similar to a hydroplaning car—your feet will slide on top of the water, unable to get a firm grip.
Water-Resistant for Kitchen Shoes, Waterproof for Brewers Boots
As we’ve mentioned, chances are in a restaurant, bar, or brewery there will be spills. It’s a hazard of the job that you’ll have beer, water, or other liquids make their way onto you or the floors at some point during the day. That’s why water-resistant shoes for restaurant workers and waterproof boots for brewers are crucial.
There is a pretty important difference here. For your workers in the front-of-house or back-of-house you’ll want a water-resistant shoe.
You or your employees don’t want to spend the whole day walking around with soaked feet. A pair of water-resistant shoes will prevent that from happening.
Warning: In the kitchen you’re NOT looking for waterproof shoes. Okay, stay with us here. It seems like waterproof shoes would be the best option right? Waterproof protection is graded on a scale from IPX-0 to IPX-8, with IPX-8 offering the most amount of protection. What could be better than keeping water completely out? Well, if your shoe is impervious to water that means it also does an incredible job of keeping any moisture inside. Eventually, moisture will build up inside your shoe, which can be problematic. Just think of how sweaty your feet get after an eight-hour shift serving beer or cooking.
The move here is to go with a water-resistant shoe NOT a waterproof shoe. Look for shoes made of common water-resistant materials such as nylon, polyurethane, or neoprene.
In the brewery, you’re much more likely to come in contact with more liquid more often (think hosing down floors, walking on wet brew decks, etc), so you’ll want to look for a waterproof brewers boot.
The most important difference here is that in addition to water, brewers can often come in contact with various chemicals, which is why it’s best to look for a waterproof boot.
Don’t Underestimate Durability
When looking for the best kitchen shoe or brewers boot, this isn’t the time to go cheap. You want to find a shoe that has durability. One that’s made with materials that are built to last.
Just think about it: You’re going to be moving around in these shoes for at least eight to ten hours per day for the foreseeable future. You’ll be moving from the mash tun to the fermenter, walking from the kitchen to a table, shuffling around from the taps to the bar tops. You want to find a shoe that’s up to the task (we have some suggestions in The 10 Best Restaurant Shoes and Brewers Boots Available section below).
Don’t skimp on security here. Buying a kitchen shoe or brewers boot is an investment. Trust us, it will be worth it in the long…run.
The 10 Best Restaurant Shoes and Brewers Boots Available
We looked around and these are the five best kitchen shoes and five best brewers boots we found available and added notes on their best features.
The priciest option on the list provides ultimate durability and grip along with a whole other host of features, including:
- Birkenstock developed the Tokio Super Grip specifically for jobs that require stamina and overall pressure on feet each day
- The Super Grip sole provides ultimate slip resistance to oil, water, and grease
- The special rubber tread and adjustable backstrap enhance sure-footedness
- EVA midsole provides a great cushion, making this shoe very comfortable
- Quality, breathable leather keeps most water out while allowing feet to breathe
- Plus, this is one of the more stylish options
This is a shoe built specifically for your back-of-house. It’s a favorite among professional chefs for these reasons:
- A removable memory foam footbed provides optimal cushioning and arch support
- The slip-resistant outsole provides great protection against slips
The company known for fashionable, durable shoes actually makes a pretty decent shoe for restaurant workers. This shoe ticks off many of the boxes above, including:
- Slip-resistant safety features including Grip-Trax outsole helps reduce slipping and prevent serious injury
- Anatomically shaped arch support provides comfortable support for those on their feet all day
- Contoured SoftWair footbed with memory foam cushion at the heel adds to the comfort level
- Moisture wicking, antimicrobial, breathable lining makes this shoe water-resistant, NOT waterproof—exactly what you want here
A more-affordable option that still checks off the essentials, including:
- SR Max MaxTRAX® Outsole Technology, a patented technology that offers superior slip resistance by wicking away liquids like oil, grease, and water
- Memory Tech Massage footbed provides nice cushioning for feet, plus it’s removable
The lowest-priced option on the list, this shoe may not be the most durable in the long run, but it does provide all the basics such as:
- Water-resistant - Scotchgard protection offers a water-resistant and stain-resistant material in the upper design
- Memory foam-topped cushioned insole provides a comfortable fit
- SR Max MaxTRAX® Outsole Technology gives you that crucial slip resistance
Recommended by Alan Windhausen, head brewer at Holidaily Brewing Co., and the Colorado Brewers Guild, these boots provide very good protection against slips and chemicals while giving excellent comfort. Take a look at the features:
- KEEN.DRY Breathable membrane and moisture-wicking lining to keep your feet cool and dry
- Tough-Tec abrasion resistant leather material that also stops water and chemicals
- Oil- and slip-resistant non-marking rubber outsole
- Excellent comfort
- American made
Similar to the style listed above for restaurant workers, Dr. Martens 1460 Original 8-Eye Boots are great for the brewing industry too. Here’s why:
- Dr. Martens GRIP TRAX™ slip-resistant technology meets the safety standards of production and brewery environments, preventing slip and fall accidents on wet surfaces
- Steel toe safety feature helps protect the wearer from falling or rolling objects
- Memory foam footbed provides cushioning and support
- SoftWair cover is a moisture-wicking surface great for the brewery
- Plus, they’re actually fashionable—something that can be very hard to find with brewers boots
- Tested and approved by brewers such as Alisa Mercado at Rhythm Brewing in Connecticut
The company building America's Hardest Working Boot™ since 1937 made a shoe specifically for brewers, partnering with breweries like Wolf’s Ridge in Columbus, OH, to test out footwear just for the craft beer industry. With that in mind, Georgia Boot includes special features such as:
- Flexible oil- and slip-resisting rubber outsole can help prevent falls and injuries
- Made from tripletanned SPR leather three times stronger than traditional leathers to resist cracking and stay tough longer
- TecTuff toe prevents leather from ripping when using your toe to push pallets and kegs
- Features a water-resistant membrane to keep water out and a waterproof lace
- Bloom Foam Insole uses harvested algae biomas to produce eco-positive foams for footwear, providing extra comfort for you and protecting the environment
- Boot is shaped to match the contours of the foot, increasing range of motion
- All materials are 100 percent recyclable for a boot that protects your feet and the environment
A boot originally made for the commercial fisherman in Alaska has become a favorite in the brewing industry because it provides the best all-day comfort and protection against acids, corrosives, and contaminants. Other features include:
- Non-marking, slip-resistant Chevron outsole keeps brewers on their feet while on wet brew decks
- XTRATUF signature triple dipping technique creates a seamless barrier highly resistant to not only water, but also chemicals and contaminants
- Ultra pliable material makes XTRATUF boots very attractive because it provides sneaker-like agility with waterproof protection
- Cushioned insoles and arch support to keep your feet charged and moving
The most affordable option on this list comes from a Belgian brand of work boot that has been specializing in safety “wellies” for tradesmen and women since the 1960s. The company recently focused on making boots for the brewing industry specifically that are known for:
- SRCtested to be highly slip resistant while simultaneously flexible for good movement when carrying kegs or manipulating machinery
- High thermal insulation that can handle temperatures as low as -4°F
- Lightweight, probably some of the lightest boots on the market
- Made out of high-quality polyurethane called Neotane, forty percent lighter than rubber and has a greater longevity
- Optimal non-slipping traction on water and oil-based surfaces
- Also come in a bunch of cool colors—something you won’t see with many other brands
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