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Restaurant Manager Career Guide

Do you enjoy working around food, have a friendly personality, and have a knack for maintaining high quality? You might be right for a career as a restaurant manager where you can put your management, organizational, and people skills to work. 

A restaurant manager oversees the daily operations of a restaurant, which includes hiring and training restaurant staff according to company policies, talking with diners and addressing any concerns or issues, and creating work schedules for restaurant staff. 

Restaurant managers typically work for restaurants and other food establishments. Restaurant managers work closely with upper management to ensure customer service policies are being followed, and they hire employees who reflect company values. They make sure service is running smoothly from the kitchen to the waiters to the front of house staff. Restaurant managers might also be responsible for inventory and ordering food products and supplies while staying within budget. They also generally fill in wherever needed when a shift is understaffed.

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is hiring an experienced restaurant manager. You should have extensive experience running a team of line cooks, waiters and waitresses, and hosts. You’ll need to create shift schedules, oversee the restaurant’s day-to-day finances, and manage all the employees. This is a labor-intensive job that doesn’t come with many breaks. Shifts will vary greatly, and weekends are the most important time to work. If you have the knowledge and experience in the food industry to manage a team of employees, this could be the position for you.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Ensure staff complies with company policy
  • Train staff to follow restaurant procedures
  • Maintain safety and food quality standards
  • Maintaining revenue and profitability goals
  • Respond quickly and efficiently to customer complaints
  • Maximize customer satisfaction
  • Create and maintain shift schedules
  • Keep a record of employees’ hours
  • Record payroll data
  • Order food products and other supplies while staying within budget limitations
  • Coordinate daily restaurant management operations
  • Create detailed reports on weekly, monthly, and yearly revenues and expenses
  • Handle conflict among staff members

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • 5+ years of restaurant or management experience

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent customer service
  • Strong leadership skills
  • Extensive food and beverage knowledge
  • Ability to train staff in food safety
  • Ability to work long shifts
  • Ability to work within a budget
  • Ability to maintain inventory and reorder products and supplies as needed

Preferred qualifications

  • Prior work as a manager or supervisor
  • Experience using restaurant management software, like OpenTable and PeachWorks
  • Acute financial management skills
  • Experience resolving conflicts calmly
  • Experience working with a bookkeeper
  • Front-of-house experience

Typical work environment

Restaurant managers work in restaurants, hotels, school cafeterias, and other establishments where food is prepared and served. The work can be stressful, as service must be right every time. They can work long hours and must be prepared to handle all aspects of day-to-day restaurant work. They should be comfortable working in the kitchen or waiting tables if the needs of the establishment require it. On any given day, they might train new employees or train other employees in new positions. They interview and hire new staff when needed. Restaurant managers must ensure food quality and safety standards every day. 

Typical hours

Restaurant managers typically work long hours, which can include evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Available certifications

Restaurant managers work in a variety of food industries, and a number of institutions provide certifications that can help restaurant managers expand their knowledge and advance their careers.  

  • Certified Restaurant Manager (CRM). The CRM was designed by restaurant industry experts and helps you gain the management skills needed to be successful in the foodservice industry. Topics covered include financial management and performance, purchasing and cost control, finding, hiring, and training employees, and managing employee performance. The only requirement to take the exam is that you are in a management position reporting to the general manager or above.
  • The Servsafe Food Safety Advantage Certification. This certification program was developed by the National Restaurant Association in conjunction with foodservice industry experts. The course prepares you to handle food sanitation risks across all industries. Training in food safety and up-to-date regulatory information are part of the program. The course includes flexible online, classroom training, in-unit, and one-on-one training. 
  • Restaurant Revenue Management Certification. Cornell University offers this online course that proves your ability to manage restaurant revenue. The certificate program consists of five two-week courses, covering the fundamentals of successful revenue management, that provide practical guidance for implementing a successful restaurant revenue management strategy. You’ll learn how to optimize occupancy, mix tables, define optimal meal duration, take reservations, and set pricing, as well as use proven processes to diagnose operational problems and improve the customer service experience.

Career path

The steps to becoming a restaurant manager start with earning a high school diploma or a GED. Further education may be helpful for some restaurant manager positions. Earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in restaurant management, hospitality management, or a related field can give you a step up over the competition and prepare you for complex job aspects such as bookkeeping. Training in culinary arts is an asset in the industry.  Many restaurant managers gain experience on the job, starting in other areas within the business.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-9051

2020 Employment309,800
Projected Employment in 2030356,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 15% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift46,200 increase

In the food service business, sanitation has become of utmost importance with the spread of COVID-19. From the kitchen, restaurant seats and tables, to the restrooms, everything in restaurants needs to be thoroughly sanitized often. This includes the personal hygiene of the staff as well, especially in the kitchen. Frequent handwashing has become the norm. Sanitation and safety will be prevalent in restaurants at least over the next few years. 

Fast-casual dining is on the rise. So is carryout, and delivery services. Restaurants are moving toward making these services more convenient for consumers. 

Streamlining has become crucial to the success of most restaurants in order to stay afloat and deliver a consistent customer experience. Digital technology is improving back-of-house processes. Streamlined kitchens amount to better efficiency across all service channels.