At first glance, a restaurant manager might seem like a frivolous position. They don’t serve, they don’t bartend, and they don’t cook. However, to dismiss the restaurant manager position as unnecessary would be a mistake. The restaurant manager is almost like a film producer, working with all parties involved in the day to day operations of the restaurant, making sure that they run in harmony, getting things done when they are supposed to, how they are supposed to, and–importantly–within budget.
What is a restaurant manager? In a nutshell, the restaurant manager is the overseer of all aspects of the restaurant, and the go-to contact for just about any inquiry. Some of the key responsibilities of the typical restaurant manager include:
Staff management: The restaurant manager is often responsible for hiring (and firing) employees. He or she may also be responsible for training wait staff and other employees, and is in charge of managing schedules. If an employee needs time off or has a complaint or question, the restaurant manager is typically going to be the point person.
Marketing: The restaurant manager is often involved, if not responsible, for marketing the restaurant. Depending on the size of the restaurant, he or she may be the person behind the social media accounts, and keeps a close eye on the restaurant’s Yelp account. Other responsibilities might include ordering brochures, managing print and online advertisements.
Special events: If someone wants to arrange a special event such as a gala, birthday party, or rehearsal dinner at the restaurant, the manager is likely the person the customer will talk to and coordinate with to plan the event.
Ordering and inventory: It’s the restaurant manager’s responsibility to make sure the kitchen is stocked with ingredients, cups, to-go boxes, clean linens, et cetera. He or she is responsible for either taking care of this, or delegating to an employee or employees.
Financial matters: Even if a restaurant has an accountant, the restaurant manager is closely involved in the restaurant’s budget. This means monitoring the cost of goods, from food to liquor to linens to dishware, monitoring invoices, and making sure that there is a budget in place.
The face of the restaurant: If a customer has an issue (or praise), they’ll often ask to speak to “the manager”. The restaurant manager is considered the face of the restaurant, and is often the highest-ranking employee that a customer can speak to. For this reason, it’s vital that a restaurant manager have good customer service and communication skills.
So, we’ve established that a restaurant manager is important, and some of the things they do on a day-to-day basis. But how exactly does one become a restaurant manager? How is a restaurant manager different from a restaurant owner? Let’s address some of these frequently asked questions.
How does one become a restaurant manager? In terms of schooling, there are a few different trajectories that can lead to restaurant management. Often, individuals who want to pursue restaurant management have studied either hospitality, business, or ideally, both. There are even programs specifically designed to train for restaurant management or hotel and restaurant management.
However, the path is not always so straightforward. Plenty of restaurant managers got to where they are the old fashioned way: by working up the ranks. It might sound funny to learn that someone started as a dishwasher and worked their way up to manager, but in some ways this is a good thing: by working their way up, a manager has good knowledge of the duties of the employees working under him or her.
What is the most important part of being a restaurant manager? It’s important for a restaurant manager to be able to wear many hats. He or she has to excel at customer service. Interpersonal and communication skills are vital, because they will be working with a variety of personality types, from vendors to chefs to servers and customers.
A strong grasp of business and marketing and a go-getter attitude is also important, as this is necessary for the business to thrive and grow.
How is a restaurant manager different from a chef? Chances are, the restaurant manager doesn’t cook. He or she is more like a producer on a film, whereas the chef is like the talent. The restaurant manager takes control of all of the goings-on so that the chef can focus on his or her job: creating great cuisine.
How is a restaurant manager different from the owner? Sometimes, the restaurant manager is the owner. However, oftentimes the restaurant is owned by someone else, who hires the manager to handle day-to-day goings-on.
The owner is the one who has gone through the process of writing a business plan, obtaining investments, and opening the doors of the restaurant. The manager is the one who manages day to day operations once the restaurant is opened. Think of it like a corporation, which may be owned by one person but may have executives managing the operations.
How much does a restaurant manager make? Often, restaurant managers are on salary rather than an hourly or commission-based rate. As for the amount of the salary, though, it can differ quite widely–just like the cost of entrees from restaurant to restaurant. The salary of a restaurant manager at an independent restaurant in a small town, for instance, will be making much less than the manager of a well-known, bit-city restaurant.
In general, on the low end, a restaurant manager might expect to make $30,000 a year; on the high end, he or she could even make six figures. Most salaries fall somewhere in the wide middle of these two extremes.
Why is a restaurant manager so important? You may find yourself thinking “wait. The manager doesn’t cook, doesn’t serve, doesn’t do dishes. Why is he so important?”. The restaurant manager is important because he or she is the one who ensures everything is running smoothly so that everyone can do their jobs, making the restaurant a success. He or she acts as a bridge between front and back of the house staff, between kitchen and dining room, dealing with the dinner rush and all that goes on behind the scenes to make the restaurant run.
Conclusion: The restaurant manager can be an unsung hero. In fact, a good restaurant manager often goes unnoticed, because he or she is doing their job so efficiently. By working behind the scenes, the restaurant manager is the man behind the machine that is the restaurant, working hard to make sure that it operates efficiently both in cost and resources. The restaurant manager increases the efficiency and bottom line of a restaurant, and should be considered of very high importance.
What do you think makes a good restaurant manager?